Google-owned YouTube, which recently tweaked its algorithms to stem the flow of conspiracy videos, has been recommending dozens of videos with graphic images of self-harm to young users as young as 13.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last week that social media platforms could be banned if they fail to protect children from content depicting or promoting suicide and self-harm, according to the BBC.
“We are masters of our own fate as a nation, and we must act to ensure that this amazing technology is used for good, not leading to young girls taking their own lives,” Hancock told the Telegraph.
When contacted by Fox News, a YouTube spokesperson gave the following statement:
“We know many people use YouTube to find information, advice or support sometimes in the hardest of circumstances. We work hard to ensure our platforms are not used to encourage dangerous behavior. Because of this, we have strict policies that prohibit videos which promote self-harm and we will remove flagged videos that violate this policy. Our policies also prohibit autocomplete predictions for these topics, and we will remove any suggestions which don’t comply with our policies.”
Whenever a user searches for certain things like “suicide,” the top result is a box pointing them toward the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s phone number and giving them an option to also text the organization to get help. The company also regularly reviews a range of these search terms in order to keep pace with what’s happening and respond accordingly.
YouTube has a separate section with resources for people who are contemplating suicide or self-harm as well.
Separately from the topic of suicide, it’s long been known that YouTube could be misused by bad actors or others with malevolent intentions.
If you or someone you know is contemplating self-harm or suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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