Brutally limiting our library of free online streaming entertainment to Fortnite highlights, makeup tutorials, and video compilations where cats and other animals are adorable best friends, YouTube announced today that it was stepping up its regulation of a wide swathe of content on its servers. Specifically, the company is targeting any and all content that constitutes “dangerous stunts and emotionally distressing pranks,” so hey, there’s our entire recommended video queue gone right there.
The Google-owned service is pushing back against various “challenges” that have continually cropped up in the online sphere over the last few years, in which one ambitious young person comes up with a great idea—like taking a big bite of the alluring, irresistible, (poisonous) laundry candy that Tide stuffs into its titular Pods—and then spreads it to others. The resulting effect acts like a sort of “virus of content”—don’t steal that, by the way—infecting other kids, sometimes with disastrous results.
Here’s part of YouTube’s recently clarified guidelines on these sorts of potentially deadly pranks:
We don’t allow pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger – for example, a home invasion prank or a drive-by shooting prank. We also don’t allow pranks that cause children to experience severe emotional distress, meaning something so bad that it could leave the child traumatized for life.
Sincerity being the rarest commodity on the internet and all, it can be difficult to figure out just how many of these challenges are actually being performed—we’re not convinced that recent videos of the “Bird Box challenge,” for instance, weren’t cooked up in the Netflix laboratories out of whole cloth. But also, it really only takes one instance of something like the “Fire challenge”—which is, depressingly, exactly as simple as it sounds—going wrong to wound or kill a kid, so better safe than sorry. Also, we just re-read that Washington Post story about the little girl who burnt herself extremely badly trying to do just one such of these online stunts, and Jesus Christ, but do we need something to lighten our mood, stat.
Take it away, adorable cats and pigs: