Watch YouTube's Rewind 2018 video and you'd think the platform was a wholesome community inhabited by only talented, well-meaning creators. In reality, there's a massive amount of cringe-worthy and downright unethical videos that went up this past year, many of which became hugely popular. In an effort to curb one of YouTube's most dangerous genres, the platform has now updated its community guidelines to crack down on dangerous pranks and challenges.
YouTube already has a policy regarding content that encourages violence or dangerous activities, but has now clarified how these terms extend to pranks or the popular challenge video trends that pop up every so often - the infamous Tide Pod challenge, for instance, or the more recent Bird Box challenge. YouTube says it now prohibits challenges that present a risk of serious danger or death. As for pranks, YouTube says it will no longer allow pranks that make victims believe they're in serious physical danger or cause children to experience severe emotional distress (who could forget the horror that is DaddyOFive).
One of many dangerous blindfold challenge videos inspired by the movie Bird Box.
YouTube is also strengthening enforcement of community guidelines when it comes to custom thumbnails and external links. If a user shares links to external sites that violate the platform's policies (for instance pornography, malware, or spam), they will receive a strike. Three strikes in 90 days and their account will be terminated. Similarly, if they use custom video thumbnails using pornography or graphic violence, they'll get a strike - even if those images aren't in the actual video.
While all these changes are eminently reasonable there is, of course, some opposition from YouTube community members that think these changes are too far-reaching. To give creators an easier adjustment period, the video platform will ramp up enforcement over two months, removing videos that violate its policies but not doling out strikes until that transition period is over. That seems pretty generous, considering most of the content they're targeting probably shouldn't have gone up in the first place.