YouTube’s Guidelines Now Address Dangerous Pranks Following Bird Box, Tide Pod Challenges

January 29, 2019

YouTube has a new message for creators looking to participate in dangerous or potentially harmful stunts, like the Bird Box or Tide Pod stunts: don’t.

The company revealed new policies that creators must follow when uploading content, and one of the biggest changes is a section dedicated entirely to dangerous pranks. YouTube has previously addressed pranks in its harmful and dangerous content category of its overall policies, but seems to have added the new section following a series of disturbing Bird Box challenge videos.

YouTube creators have a history of participating in dangerous challenges — including Jake Paul driving blindfolded to participate in the Bird Box challenge, teens eating poisonous Tide Pods for the Tide Pod challenge, and even some creators alluding to drugging their girlfriends on camera with natural sexual enhancement pills — all in the name of content. YouTube’s new policies state:

YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, but we need to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous. We’ve made it clear that our policies prohibiting harmful and dangerous content also extend to pranks with a perceived danger of serious physical injury. We don’t allow pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger — for example, a home invasion prank or a drive-by shooting prank.

These types of pranks are popular among creators. While many of the pranks are often performed by stunt actors, or edited to appear real when the creator isn’t in any actual danger, that’s not always clear for viewers. These challenges are often reattempted by people looking to create their own videos, including one case where a woman shot her boyfriend and killed him while trying to perform a stunt.

One would think that simply uploading a dangerous video of this magnitude once would result in a channel being terminated, but that won’t necessarily happen unless there are repeat offenses in a short period of time. YouTube’s policy is to hand out a strike and remove the video, but that strike disappears after 90 days. While a creator may lose some privileges within those 90 days, including the ability to live stream, they could technically come back once the strike is removed and perform another dangerous stunt.

These aren’t the only updates YouTube announced for creators’ community guidelines. Thumbnails that include egregious content, such as pornography or graphic violence, will result in a creator earning a community guideline strike. This is true even if the video doesn’t contain any of the content teased by the thumbnail. YouTube has faced issues with grotesque, overtly sexual, and dangerous thumbnails for quite some time, as creators try to garner attention toward their videos.

Lastly, YouTube has strengthened its enforcement around external links. Creators who use external links for websites that cater to content like pornography, hateful ideology, or content that can incite violence, will receive a community strike. Again, if a channel collects three strikes in 90 days, it will be terminated.

The company is giving creators two months to clean their channels up, but going forward, any video that violates these guidelines will be removed and creators could receive a possible community guideline strike against their channel.

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