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YouTube Tries to Idiot-Proof Its Policy

Because the Internet is both a haven of information and a crime against humanity.

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YouTube may be catching on to the fact that idiots use the Internet.

After Netflix viewers took the #BirdBoxChallenge and ran into walls with it–as well as cars–YouTube is explicitly banning pranks and challenges that violate laws, safety regulations, and common sense. A new support page on the video sharing site explains that they've updated their policy about "harmful and dangerous" content. While the site recognizes that "many beloved viral challenges and pranks" are shared by users, they've censored some examples like the overblown Tide Pod-eating challenge and the evolutionarily stupid Fire challenge.

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And because the Internet is both a haven of information and a crime against humanity, YouTube has tried to clarify what "harmful and dangerous" means in idiot-proof language. The company posted, "Our policies prohibiting harmful and dangerous content also extend to pranks with a perceived danger of serious physical injury. We don't allow pranks that make victims believe they're in serious physical danger — for example, a home invasion prank or a drive-by shooting prank. We also don't allow pranks that cause children to experience severe emotional distress, meaning something so bad that it could leave the child traumatized for life."

The policy goes on to explicitly ban "content that intends to sell certain regulated or illegal goods and services through direct sales or links to sites that sell these items. These items include, but may not be limited to, drugs, pharmaceuticals that require a prescription, alcohol, nicotine products, online gambling casinos, counterfeit documents, or stolen credit card information." Perhaps YouTube is hoping to curb a criminal underbelly thriving on the video-sharing site. Or maybe they're thinking of alarmed neckbeards in their parents' basements who sell their extra Adderall online. It's impossible to tell.

If you're still unsure what's considered illegal, YouTube clarifies that "dangerous or illegal activities" include: instructional bomb making, challenges that encourage acts that have an inherent risk of severe physical harm, pranks that make victims believe they're in physical danger, and pranks that cause emotional distress to children, and hard drug use.

Well, at least soft drug use is still okay.


Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.


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