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YouTube Kids reportedly will release an updated app curated by actual humans
Can this end some of the site’s conspiracy theory problems?
YouTube plans to roll out a non-algorithmic, whitelisted version of its YouTube Kids app in the near future as a means of avoiding violent, sexually explicit, and conspiracy-ridden content, the likes of which have all plagued the app in the past, Buzzfeed News reports.
The new and improved YouTube Kids app will also suggest videos from channels handpicked by a team of curators at YouTube. These hand-picked selections in lieu of algorithmically selected content should theoretically eliminate the conspiracy theory videos that flooded the app in the past, including claims that the moon landing was fake, the world is flat, and that Earth is run by human-reptile hybrids.
YouTube has encountered numerous scandals in the past year, including the “Elsagate” controversy, in which bizarre and disturbing videos featuring Disney characters and superheroes exploited the YouTube Kids algorithm to earn more views. Then there’s the issue of the platform’s more problematic content creators, including conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host Alex Jones, whose channel lost advertising from a number of major brands last month; and Logan Paul, who remains on probation after a channel suspension for posting a vlog that featured the dead body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan.
Last month, at SXSW, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki addressed the spreading of misinformation on the platform. Wojcicki suggested that “information cues” from Wikipedia would debunk conspiracy videos, despite the fact that anybody can edit Wikipedia, making its own veracity suspect.
There’s no release date set for the whitelisted, non-algorithmic version of the YouTube Kids app, but Buzzfeed reports it could arrive this month. A YouTube spokesperson told the Verge in a statement, “We are always working to update and improve YouTube Kids, however we don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”
Bryan Rolli is a reporter who specializes in streaming entertainment. He writes about music and film for Forbes, Billboard, and the Austin American-Statesman. He met Flavor Flav in two separate Las Vegas bowling alleys and still can’t stop talking about it.