An article in the Guardian found that Youtube’s algorithm fails regarding appropriate content. The researchers explored YouTube Kids, an app for youngsters first created in 2015. The app bills itself as a safer alternative for kids, especially those under 13. Content is promoted to more than one age group. There is a section for kids under four, ages four to seven, and ages nine to twelve. All of these categories are billed as places with safe, age-appropriate content. However, it seems that Youtube has failed.
Youtube’s Algorithms Are In Control – Or Are They?
The big and straightforward reason kids access inappropriate content is the lack of parental supervision. Many people put faith in filters and algorithms. But when those filters fail, there isn’t an adult around to switch off the set.
Youtube says that they“a mix of automated filters built by our engineering teams, human review and feedback from parents to protect our youngest users online.” They do admit that content makes it through.
There have long been arguments about the problems with content moderation being assigned to machines.
What Types Of Content Were Shown On Youtube?
For many children, shows such as a cooking show based on “Breaking Bad” were shown to kids. (If you are unfamiliar with the show, it follows a meth dealer and his descent into drug trafficking, violence, and exile.)
The show made jokes and references to drug use but may have had enough nuance for children to not “get it.” However, that’s not why the machine decided to let it go. The cooking show itself, it seems, was deemed innocuous. The title or description used no words describing drugs or drug use. Fans of the show, however, understood what it meant.
Another video featuring Eric Clapton’s song, “Cocaine,” made it through the censorship. It’s not clear why this happened, except that mistakes DO happen. Machines are still learning.
What Is The Solution To Unwelcome Adult-Themed Content?
Researchers believe that content for children should be reviewed by hand. Youtube most likely doesn’t pay to have the resources for that. However, somebody needs to be involved in the consumption of media.
For young children, a parent should be around. Youtube isn’t a necessity for young children. They don’t need to be surfing. If they want to see a cute cat video, a parent or older sibling can watch it with them.