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YouTube Says It's Cracking Down On Paedophilic Comments On Child Videos

YouTube has taken steps to try and curb paedophilic comments and behaviour on its site, after it was accused of being a platform for a soft-core paedophile ring.

The video streaming service quietly disabled comments on tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory comments.

"Over the next few months, we will be broadening this action to suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior," YouTube said in a statement released on Thursday.

YouTube said only select channels with videos featuring children will have their comments enabled.These will be required to have all comments moderated demonstrate they are at low-risk of predatory behaviour.

This crackdown comes after YouTube was accused of facilitating predatory behaviour and not taking meaningful action to stop it.

Online Predator
Youtube is finally doing something to manage predatory comments in its site. Image: Getty Images.

YouTuber MattWhatItIs accused the platform of this conduct. In a video posted in mid-February, he said he gained access to a soft-core paedophile ring on YouTube in less than five clicks of his mouse.

"Over the past 48 hours, I have discovered a wormhole ...  into a soft-core paedophile ring on YouTube," he said the video.

He claimed people watch videos of young girls and trade social media contacts and links to actual child pornography in the comments section.

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He also said links to unlisted videos are shared between those who comment. He blames the YouTube algorithm or an "error or glitch" in YouTube programming.

In addition to comment disabling, YouTube said it will launch a new comment classifier that will automatically detect and remove double the amount of comments it currently filters.

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Channels that post videos that could attract predatory comments or endanger children -- while already against existing YouTube policy -- will experience stricter monitoring.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing practices that was recently brought to light, is time stamping. This is where links to certain sections of a video are posted in the comments section.

Youtube Timestamping
An example of timestamping-- comments on a video of young girls. Image: Yutube/ MattWhatItIs

"What these paedophiles do, they find these videos ... and they timestamp.  The timestamping on these videos is when the little girls are in compromising positions, in sexually explicit positions," MattWhatItIs said.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki acknowledged this may have contributed to the platform's reputation of possibly facilitating online predatory behaviour targeting children.

"Recently, there have been some deeply concerning incidents regarding child safety on YouTube. Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety of young people on the platform," Wojcicki wrote on Twitter.

With more than 60 percent of Australian children and young people accessing the internet with mobile devices, the risk of being exposed to predatory behaviour is higher than ever before.

Despite this, there are ways to protect young people online, according to child protection organisation Bravehearts. The group warns young people that anyone could access images or videos that are posted online.

"You should also remember that the people you meet on the Internet might not be who they seem to be. Because the Internet offers a degree of secrecy, people can be whoever they want," Bravehearts said in their position statement on Keeping Safe Online.

Child Online
Bravehearts says there are many ways young people can stay safe online. Image: Getty Images.

According to Bravehearts, one of the biggest issues facing young people online is "exposure to inappropriate material, such as pornography or violence".

Other serious risks include grooming, exploitation, sexting and harassment.

It's recommended young people remain anonymous online and refrain from creating suggestive usernames like' hotgirl' or 'sexy girl' to avoid attracting unwanted attention.

Young people are also warned not to meet up with anyone they connect with online, as it's one of the most dangerous things a minor can do in an ultra-connected world.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au