"A DOLL POSSESSED BY A DEMON"
Recommender systems power YouTube's controversial kids' videos
Familiar cartoon characters are placed in bizarre scenarios, sometimes by human content creators, sometimes by automated systems, for the purpose of attracting views and ad money. First, from the New York Times:
“But the app [YouTube Kids] contains dark corners, too, as videos that are disturbing for children slip past its filters, either by mistake or because bad actors have found ways to fool the YouTube Kids algorithms.
“In recent months, parents like Ms. Burns have complained that their children have been shown videos with well-known characters in violent or lewd situations and other clips with disturbing imagery, sometimes set to nursery rhymes. Many have taken to Facebook to warn others, and share video screenshots showing moments ranging from a Claymation Spider-Man urinating on Elsa of ‘Frozen’ to Nick Jr. characters in a strip club.”
Full piece by SAPNA MAHESHWARI in the Times here.
On Medium, JAMES BRIDLE expands on the topic, and criticizes the structure of YouTube itself for incentivizing these kinds of videos, many of which have millions of views.
“These videos, wherever they are made, however they come to be made, and whatever their conscious intention (i.e. to accumulate ad revenue) are feeding upon a system which was consciously intended to show videos to children for profit. The unconsciously-generated, emergent outcomes of that are all over the place.
“While it is tempting to dismiss the wilder examples as trolling, of which a significant number certainly are, that fails to account for the sheer volume of content weighted in a particularly grotesque direction. It presents many and complexly entangled dangers, including that, just as with the increasing focus on alleged Russian interference in social media, such events will be used as justification for increased control over the internet, increasing censorship, and so on.”
Link to Bridle’s piece here.