YouTube updates guidelines to address dangerous pranks, challenges

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YouTube wants users to know that dangerous viral challenges or pranks like the Tide Pod challenge have no place on the video platform.

The Google-owned video-sharing site said Tuesday it had updated its community guidelines to clarify that content containing pranks with a perceived danger of serious physical injury violate YouTube policy prohibiting content that encourages violence or dangerous activities. The updated policy comes amid a spate of Bird Box challenges, in which participants go around wearing blindfolds.

‘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,’ YouTube said in a blog post Tuesday announcing the update.

The policy clarification makes it clear that YouTube doesn’t allow the posting of pranks that make people feel they’re in serious physical danger, such as a home invasion or drive-by shooting. It also prohibits pranks that cause severe emotional distress to children — anything that could leave the child traumatized for life.

YouTube has seen an uptick in the past year of people posting recordings of themselves engaging in dangerous challenges. A year ago, YouTube began removing videos of the so-called Tide Pod challenge, which involves people putting their health at risk by eating the brightly colored laundry detergent packs known as pods. Liquid laundry packets or capsules contain highly concentrated, toxic detergent that can result in injury, including burns, loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting and difficulty breathing.

The policy clarification comes amid another viral fad, in which fans of the Netflix movie Bird Box mimic characters in the movie who wear blindfolds to escape a sinister force that turns anyone who sees it suicidal. While most of the mentions of the challenge are based around jokes, some videos are a bit more extreme.

YouTube personality Jake Paul last week posted a video of himself walking into busy traffic blindfolded and driving a car while also blindfolded. Another challenge video shows a woman burning herself on a heater.

The activity led Netflix earlier this month to issue a statement urging copycats to be careful not to hurt themselves imitating the film.

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