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YouTube’s latest policy bans videos inciting dangerous behaviour, following the “Bird Box Challenge”

YouTube has updated its official policies this week, with its support page detailing a stronger stance against harmful content such as dangerous challenges and pranks. Of course, the Google-owned platform has never endorsed such behaviour, but feels the need to embed its opposition in legal terms following the inconceivably popular string of risky “Bird Box Challenges.”

The newly amended FAQ outlines that YouTube has “always had policies to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous,” but the increasing amount of dangerous behaviour trending across the internet calls for an update to its external guidelines. The platform has made it abundantly clear that “challenges like the Tide pod challenge or the Fire challenge, that can cause death and/or have caused death in some instances, have no place on YouTube.”

Specifically, the guidelines will now prevent “challenges that encourage acts that have an inherent risk of severe physical harm, pranks that make victims believe they’re in physical danger and pranks that cause emotional distress to children.” As bannable offenses, these types of videos join “instructional bomb making” and the depiction of hard drugs in YouTube’s zero-tolerance policy, with existing content creators given two months to clean up their channel before receiving a strike.

Although it goes unmentioned in the new guidelines, the timing of this comes immediately after a Utah resident crashed her car while blindfolded simply to partake in the recently trending “Bird Box Challenge.” This is named after Netflix’s hit horror film, in which challengers complete tasks while covering their eyes. Fortunately, both drivers involved in the motor accident walked away without injury, but there have been many more accounts where harm has occurred.

“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE,” reads Netflix’s response to the trend on Twitter. “We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.”

YouTube is also cracking down on external links to sites, suspending accounts that link to malware and spam, and enforcing its new guidelines on custom thumbnails, which must not depict graphic violence or pornography. Let’s just hope it doesn’t define porn in the same way Facebook seems to.

KitGuru Says: YouTube’s new, heavily enforced ruleset is particularly important to children and younger viewers, who are recognised as impressionable. Influencers have a duty to ensure they aren’t propagating dangerous ideas in exchange for views. How do you feel about the revised guidelines?

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