This past week, YouTube has been at the center of an ongoing scandal that finally caught the media’s attention. After months of user reports saying there was something fishy about children channels that uploaded disturbing videos, the platform has enforced new rules to protect kids from inappropriate content.
Much of the controversy sparked as a result of content creators gaining awareness of this phenomenon, dubbed “Elsagate” by the community due to a particular channel who uploads videos depicting sexualized animated characters engaging in inappropriate behavior, consuming alcohol, and being violent.
The state of the internet today allows for millions of clips to be uploaded to YouTube every day, and policing them all is an understandably titanic task. The team over at Google’s video platform said they would use both AI and people to double down on their efforts to keep the site free of unacceptable content.
What is “Elsagate” all about?
YouTubers have referred to this whole trend of corrupt kids videos as “Elsagate” because Elsa, the main character of the Disney movie Frozen, was and still is a widely popular character among children and was used a lot in the first wave of videos.
The thing is that these are not normal family videos. The content itself is, at times, nonsensical verging on the absurd while also passing through different degrees of disturbing that range from scatological comedy involving feces to semi-explicit softcore porn and depictions of violence.
Different channels take different approaches to the trend, but they all share a common goal: to captivate their infant audience by sneaking into their playlists using the YouTube algorithm strategically.
It doesn’t matter whether actors in costumes play out the situations or if people animate them, they all display masterful use of keywords in titles and descriptions, and they all have thousands of views at their lowest. Most have millions and tens of millions of reproductions. Monetized, no less.
What is YouTube doing about Elsagate?
Google’s video platform has long been a hub for controversy and eclectic in their solutions to the issues it suffers, to describe it in a politically correct way. This time has been no different, launching a crusade against all and every content creator out there that makes inappropriate content aimed directly or indirectly at children.
This last part is where a whole other problem has surfaced. While it is a great initiative to crack down on these disturbing channels, others whose humor and content are not even aimed at kids got caught in the mix and had their channels suspended or deleted as a result.
YouTube has also delivered on promises like deleting deeply disturbing search results like “how to have s*x with your kids,” and predatory comments on children’s videos. There are also conspiracy theories that say child traffickers communicate in code using the videos’ comment sections.