Recent investigations by Wired and video blogger Matt Watson have alleged that paedophiles were using the site’s comments section to leave predatory messages on videos containing and uploaded by children, and to share links to child sexual abuse material.
In response to the investigations – and the threat of an advertiser boycott – YouTube has now said it will disable comments on videos containing young children. But sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In January 2019 was alleged that Microsoft’s Bing search engine was surfacing and suggesting child sexual abuse material. And these kind of incidents are repeats of similar problems that have occurred over the past five years.
The reality is that the internet has a systemic problem with child sexual abuse material that isn’t confined to niche sites or the dark web but hiding in plain sight among content hosted and controlled by the tech giants. We must do more to protect children online and this action has to go beyond tweaks to algorithms or turning off comments.