YouTube has detailed more specific policies that put more guidelines on pranks and challenges on its platform. On a new support page, the Google-owned company has expanded its policy regarding “harmful and dangerous” content and is banning pranks and challenges that could cause physical or emotional harm.
“YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, like Jimmy Kimmel's Terrible Christmas Presents prank or the water bottle flip challenge,” the FAQ post says. “That said, we've always had policies to make sure what's funny doesn't cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous.”
Updated policies focus on three areas, with videos of the following types now banned:
- Challenges that encourage acts that have an inherent risk of severe physical harm
- Pranks that make victims believe they're in physical danger
- Pranks that cause emotional distress to children
There are two ways to look at this decision, positively and negatively. Let's start with the negative. It could be argued YouTube is restricting content too much, and how will the company properly determine if a prank is potentially harmful or not.
Furthermore, this is likely another strike against the smaller content creators, who YouTube seem to be going to war with. The company used Jimmy Kimmel in their example. Would the platform take down one of Kimmel's videos if a prank was deemed to be potentially harmful?
And the positive? Prank channels are among the most annoying on YouTube, and may users seem to agree. However, in an anomalous twist, they are also hugely popular. It is a quirk of a service as all encompassing as YouTube that a video type can be hated and loved in equal measure.
Many prank channels have often had an undertone of cruelty about them, so they will certainly not be missed.
YouTube is typically leaving much of the discretion over which videos are banned down to moderators. The company says prank and challenge channels have two months to review their content and remove any videos that violate the new policies. After this period, offending videos will be removed, although no strikes will be given.
After this first round of removals, any offending videos will be treated as any other violating the company's guidelines. That means video strikes and channel bans for repeat offenders.