If your child uses YouTube without supervision, they have probably watched an animated video with Peppa Pig weeping as a dentist shoves a needle into her mouth, and then screaming as he extracts her teeth. Or the one where she is attacked by zombies, in the dark. Or the one where Frozen’s Elsa is burned alive. Or the one where a demon makes one of the Paw Patrol commit suicide.

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Children are being exposed to harmful and exploitative content, and AI moderation can’t seem to stop it

These and similar videos— in their thousands — float around YouTube, often a few scrolls and two clicks away from some innocuous search keyword.

Other less violent but equally disturbing videos also target children, featuring bizarre, repetitive footage that has been strung together by algorithms rather than human content creators. These meaningless fever-dreams show eggs being unwrapped by a disembodied set of hands, or costumed superhero characters with unsettling faces marching across the screen. …


Darren Menachemson

Darren is a global partner in world-leading public good organisation, Thinkplace, and co-founder of the Center for the Ethical Design of Childhood Experiences.

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