Youtube is Exposing Kids to Hate Speech

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Youtube has been called “The New Children’s TV,” with 81 percent of parents letting their kids watch Youtube at ages 11 or younger. As children grow older, time spent on Youtube only increases, with kids immersing themselves in a wide range of content, from comedy videos, to music, to increasingly popular gaming videos. The platform offers a wide range of age appropriate and even educational content for kids.

However in recent years, Youtube has had a worsening problem with hate speech spreading on its platform. Through Youtube’s suggested videos feature, it is disturbingly easy to encounter hateful content, even when viewing videos which are entirely unrelated. In one experiment, it took just nine autoplays to get from a PBS clip about the 116th United States Congress to an anti-immigrant video from a designated hate organization.

The worst part about the kind of hate speech spreading on Youtube is that it is often covert, using humor or other types of content to spread hateful ideas. One example of this is “Fashwave”, a variant of neo-80’s music with a disturbing twist - the addition of iconography and sound clips which glorify Fascism. Another example is Youtube creators who build large followings and pull in new viewers with innocuous content such as gaming videos, but dedicate the other half of their videos to ideas such as White Nationalism and anti-Feminism.

Exposing developing minds to hateful ideas is dangerous. Kids are constantly absorbing information and using this to develop their own unique view of the world and other people, making them especially vulnerable to the kinds of propaganda hate groups are spreading on Youtube. People are most likely to hold racist ideas when exposed to them as kids. One study even linked exposure to racism as children to higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Like many others, the recent New Zealand mosque shooter was radicalized on social media. We don’t want to find out what the consequences would be of a generation of kids exposed to hateful content from a young age. It’s time for Youtube to join Facebook and other social media platforms in cracking down on hate and White Nationalism, or as is the slogan of its parent company: ‘do the right thing’.

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