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YouTube is disabling comments on videos with minors after advertisers back out over abuse

Key Points
  • YouTube announced Thursday it is disabling comments on videos with minors.
  • The announcement comes one week after advertisers pulled spending due to reports on a network of pedophiles in the comments of videos featuring kids.
  • Wired reported last week that some pedophiles use the comments section of videos featuring kids to share timestamps where potentially suggestive images of children can be seen.
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YouTube to suspend comments video featuring minors

YouTube is disabling comments on videos with minors, the company said in a blog post Thursday.

The announcement comes a week after advertisers including AT&T, Hasbro, Disney and Nestle pulled their ads from the Google-owned platform following reports of an active pedophile network in the comments of videos. Mattel also pulled their ads from the platform, CNBC confirmed Thursday. Wired reported last week that some pedophiles use the comments section of videos featuring kids to share timestamps where potentially suggestive images of children can be seen.

Now, YouTube is taking new steps to address the issue, starting with disabling comments entirely from most videos featuring children. YouTube said it has already taken this step over the past week for tens of millions of videos "that could be subject to predatory behavior." It plans to expand the effort to videos featuring both younger and older minors "at risk of attracting predatory behavior," YouTube said in the blog post.

Still, a "small number of creators" will continue to have comments enabled on this category of videos, but "will be required to actively moderate their comments, beyond just using our moderation tools, and demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior," according to YouTube.

In addition to disabling comments, YouTube said it has launched a new classifier that it believes will be more effective at identifying and removing predatory comments.

Here is the full announcement from YouTube:

Dear Creators,

We know that many of you have been closely following the actions we're taking to protect young people on YouTube and are as deeply concerned as we are that we get this right. We want to update you on some additional changes we're making, particularly in regards to comments, building on the efforts we shared last week.

We recognize that comments are a core part of the YouTube experience and how you connect with and grow your audience. At the same time, the important steps we're sharing today are critical for keeping young people safe. Thank you for your understanding and feedback as we continue our work to protect the YouTube community.

Below is a summary of the main steps we've taken to improve child safety on YouTube since our update last Friday:

Disabling comments on videos featuring minors

Over the past week, we disabled comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behavior. These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months. Over the next few months, we will be broadening this action to suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.

A small number of creators will be able to keep comments enabled on these types of videos. These channels will be required to actively moderate their comments, beyond just using our moderation tools, and demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior. We will work with them directly and our goal is to grow this number over time as our ability to catch violative comments continues to improve.

Launching a new comments classifier

While we have been removing hundreds of millions of comments for violating our policies, we had been working on an even more effective classifier, that will identify and remove predatory comments. This classifier does not affect the monetization of your video. We accelerated its launch and now have a new comments classifier in place that is more sweeping in scope, and will detect and remove 2X more individual comments.

Taking action on creators who cause egregious harm to the community

No form of content that endangers minors is acceptable on YouTube, which is why we have terminated certain channels that attempt to endanger children in any way. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges targeting any audience are also clearly against our policies. We will continue to take action when creators violate our policies in ways that blatantly harm the broader user and creator community. Please continue to flag these to us.

Thank you for your understanding as we make these changes,

TeamYouTube

-CNBC's Julia Boorstin contributed to this report.

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