YouTube said Thursday it will disable user comments on a broad array of videos featuring children to thwart “predatory behavior” after revelations about a glitch exploited for sharing of child pornography.
The Google-owned video sharing service announced further steps to crack down on inappropriate comments a week after an investigation showing how comments and connections on child porn were being displayed alongside innocuous videos.
“We recognize that comments are a core part of the YouTube experience and how you connect with and grow your audience,” YouTube said in a posted message to creators.
“At the same time, the important steps we’re sharing today are critical for keeping young people safe.”
YouTube said that during the past week it has suspended comments on tens of millions of videos to prevent users from exploiting of the software glitch for nefarious purposes.
“These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months,” YouTube said.
“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 video creators will be allowed to keep comments enabled, but will be required to carefully moderate commentary and to deploy software tools provided by YouTube, according to Google.
YouTube accelerated the release of an improved “classifier” that it said will detect and remove twice the number of policy-breaking comments by individuals.
A YouTube creator last week revealed what he called a “wormhole” that allowed comments and connections on child porn alongside videos.
Shortly thereafter, YouTube deleted many comments and blocked some accounts and channels showing inappropriate comments.
Matt Watson, a YouTube creator with some 26,000 subscribers, revealed the workings of what he termed a “wormhole” into a pedophile ring that allowed users to trade social media contacts and links to child porn in YouTube comments.
The post by Watson sparked a series of news reports and boycotts of YouTube ads from major firms.
The incident raised fears of a fresh “brand safety” crisis for YouTube, which lost advertisers last year following revelations that messages appeared on channels promoting conspiracy theories, white nationalism and other objectionable content.