YouTube bans dangerous prank videos after 'Bird Box challenge' warning

YouTube bans dangerous prank videos after 'Bird Box challenge' warning

YouTube has updated its community guidelines to explicitly ban dangerous prank videos after a string of incidents that resulted in injuries, such as videos produced for the recent "'Bird Box' challenge" in which users blind-folded themselves while performing tasks including driving.

The company said the update was not a response to "Bird Box" specifically, but rather the spate of dangerous challenges that have emerged over the past year, including the "Tide Pod challenge," in which people filmed themselves eating laundry detergent pods.

"YouTube has long prohibited videos which promote harmful or dangerous activities and we routinely review and update our enforcement guidelines to make sure they’re consistent and appropriately address emerging trends," a YouTube spokesman told The Hill.

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"We heard feedback from creators that we could provide some clarity on certain Community Guidelines, so we published additional materials detailing when a challenge becomes too dangerous for YouTube, and when the emotional harm caused by a prank crosses the line." 

The video-sharing platform, which is owned by Google, is clarifying that it prohibits videos of challenges in which people are presented with "a risk of serious danger or death" as well as pranks in which victims "believe they're in serious physical danger."

"Reminder – content that encourages violence or dangerous activities that may result in serious physical harm, distress or death violates our harmful and dangerous policy," read the new YouTube guidelines, which were rolled out on Tuesday.

"YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, but we need to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous," the guidelines say.

A teenager in Utah crashed her vehicle into another car earlier this month after attempting the “Bird Box” challenge of driving with her eyes closed, local police said. 

YouTube star Jake Paul also recently filmed a video in which he drove blindfolded to participate in the "Bird Box" challenge, which was quickly removed.

YouTube's policy team regularly consults with experts including doctors and psychologists to develop guidelines barring certain content, according to YouTube.

The "'Bird Box' challenge" was inspired by the Netflix original movie of the same name, in which the main characters are forced to move through their daily lives wearing blindfolds.

Netflix ultimately warned people against participating in the challenge, discouraging people from ending up "in the hospital due to memes."

YouTube creators now have two months to remove barred content from their channels, and any new content that violates the community guidelines will be removed.