Reports have emerged claiming that YouTube Kids has a huge problem with conspiracy videos. The kid-friendly version of YouTube launched three-years ago and is a separate app from the main YouTube app. It was designed to let children browse YouTube without parents being worried about unsuitable content appearing.
A new Business Insider report says numerous conspiracy videos are on the kids’ version of the site, including those that state “that the world is flat, that the moon landing was faked, and that the planet is ruled by reptile-human hybrids”. Its investigation found that a top recommended video on the home page of YouTube Kids was a conspiracy theory about aliens on the moon. Another one of the top videos claimed to show a UFO shooting at a chemtrail.
One of the top videos to appear for the search term “UFO” was a nearly five-hour-long lecture by professional conspiracy theorist David Icke. During the video, Icke claims that the Freemasons killed President John Kennedy, among other things. Two other conspiracy theory videos by Icke appeared in the related videos.
Videos from conspiracy theorists Ben Davidson, Gerald Pollack, and Wallace Thornhill were also found through the YouTube Kids’ suggested videos feature. While searches for “9/11” or “porn” returned no results, searches for “chemtrails,” “flat earth,” and “nibiru” were all allowed in the app.
Some of the videos found by the Business Insider investigation have since been removed from YouTube Kids. YouTube has also blocked Icke’s channel on the app. YouTube still doesn’t have clear rules around whether conspiracy theory videos violate its community guidelines. Those guidelines cover bullying, hate speech, graphic violence, and sexually explicit content, but not misinformation.
YouTube issued a statement saying: “The YouTube Kids app is home to a wide variety of content that includes enriching and entertaining videos for families. This content is screened using human trained systems. That being said, no system is perfect and sometimes we miss the mark. When we do, we take immediate action to block the videos or, as necessary, channels from appearing in the app. We will continue to work to improve the YouTube Kids app experience.”
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki indicated that YouTube is working on countering the conspiracy-related videos that are spreading quickly on the platform during a recent appearance at the South by Southwest Festival. YouTube now plans to add links to Wikipedia pages for viewers who choose to learn more about a subject.