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YouTube is taking down videos of the Tide Pod Challenge
Eating Pods violates community guidelines.
The Tide Pod’s popularity hinges on one simple truth: These packets of laundry detergent are so candy-like in appearance they’re impossible to resist as a snack (for some people, at least). It’s one of those memes so fundamentally dumb that its manifestations are endless. There are Tide Pod recipes, Tide Pod PSAs. One guy vaped a Tide Pod. But YouTube is drawing the line at Tide Pod Challenge videos this week, worried that people might actually poison themselves in the name of content.
— Motherboard (@motherboard) January 18, 2018
— US Consumer Product Safety Commission (@USCPSC) January 13, 2018
Like Cinnamon Challenge videos before them, Tide Pod Challenge videos feature a person attempting to eat an entire Tide Pod on camera. The result, time and time again, is that there’s so much detergent in one Pod most people barely get past the point of breaking the plastic skin before they need to spit the whole thing out in a soapy mess. YouTube announced Wednesday that it will now take down any videos of the challenge, in the interest of users’ safety.
“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm,” the company said in a statement. “We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies.”
YouTube got itself in hot water over its enforcement of community guidelines earlier this month. The company considers videos for removal when users flag them, and people with enough strikes on their channel are at risk of having their account suspended. Even though the process sounds straightforward, the streaming giant took weeks to come up with repercussions for star vlogger Logan Paul after he uploaded a disturbing video to his channel, eventually removed it, and initially monetized his apology video. It claimed at the time that it had been “listening” closely to the community.
So cracking down on Tide Pods seems like a simple way for YouTube to get on the right side of a community issue after wading around in ethical grey areas all month. According to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, centers across the U.S. handled 39 cases of people intentionally ingesting laundry detergent in 2016 (among people ages 13-19) and 53 cases in 2017. In the first two weeks of 2018 alone, they’ve seen 39 cases.
“We have seen a large spike in single-load laundry packet exposures among teenagers since these videos have been uploaded,” Stephen Kaminski, the AAPCC’s CEO, said in a statement.
Procter & Gamble, Tide’s parent company, said in a statement, “We have been working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies. Laundry packs are made to clean clothes.”
In other words: Don’t eat the pods, guys. They’re bad for you.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.