YouTube to Ban Pranks in Wake of Bird Box Challenge

Published on January 23, 2019

YouTube has decided to ban pranks that put people in physical or emotional danger in the wake of popular challenges such as the Bird Box Challenge. The video platform announced this week that will not allow users to upload videos that depict users performing acts that can or have caused death. The site made changes to its user guidelines to accommodate this policy change and claims that videos like that are not welcome on YouTube. Google currently owns the video-sharing platform.

The rise of dangerous viral challenge videos such as the “Bird Box challenge” are credited as inspiring the change to YouTube’s policy. The “Bird Box challenge” asked participants to mimic the characters in the popular Netflix Original movie and do daily tasks, like driving, with a blindfold on. The challenge has raised a lot of controversy in the last couple of weeks after causing dangerous accidents. In one instance, a Utah teen drove into an intersection blindfolded and hit another driver. No one involved in the accident was hurt, but things could have ended a lot differently.

Dangerous Challenges

Other challenges that inspired YouTube to ban pranks were things like the “Tide Pod” challenge. In that particular challenge, participants would eat Tide Pod products while filming themselves to post to the website. The meme eventually got so popular that Tide had to release an advertisement encouraging people not to eat their product. The laundry detergent company isn’t the only one to have to release statements like these. Netflix recently tweeted against the Bird Box challenge, urging people not to take part in it.

In addition to the aforementioned dangerous pranks, YouTube said it will also be banning pranks or challenges that pose an emotional risk to people, or children in particular. Challenges or pranks like tricking children into thinking their parent has died or that they’re in danger. The company cites that videos such as these pose threats to people’s mental health and can leave children with lasting emotional trauma.

Other, More Welcomed Challenges

Google really just wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t be held liable if someone were to get hurt. The video sharing platform will not be banning all pranks or challenges, though. Less-risky challenges are still welcomed on the site. Other social media sites are continuing to welcome lighthearted challenges like the ten year challenge. The ten year challenge asks users to share a side by side photo of themselves from ten years ago. The purpose is to compare it with their most current photo. One would think this would be a more appropriate challenge for the beginning of the next decade in 2020. But the ten year challenge proves that people love nothing more than talking about themselves.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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