Peppa Pig and Mickey Mouse may seem like safe cartoon companions for your kids, but did you know there are YouTube creators who use the image of your child’s favorite cartoon to create sexualized and disturbing videos?
If you haven’t watched the video yourself, it might not be safe for your kid. On today’s show, Stu talked about the risks of YouTube’s video suggestions. The site auto-plays related videos, so your child could watch a harmless video featuring Mickey Mouse and then get a suggestion for another clip where Mickey does disturbing things.
USA Today reported:
Some [videos] we found were age restricted, meaning they could only be viewed by signing in with a Google account, which is only available to those of 13 and older. If YouTube had identified the videos as adults-only, they should have barred anyone under 18 from viewing.
But others in this genre, with titles like “Joker has trouble braking his c— s–ing habit,” based on the Batman nemesis, “Cedric Rapes Harry,” using footage from one of the films based on the children’s novels, and “YTP Peppa Pig Plays Sexual Games” did not carry any age restriction prompt — meaning users of any age could watch them. One of the worst offenders was a ripoff of the “Let it Go” song from Frozen, with the words changed to sing crudely about a sexual act. This video had nearly 2 million views.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.
LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
STU: Yeah. The Facebook Messenger thing you mentioned is scary. They said they’ve taken as many — they’ve tried to eliminate all these problems. They’ve talked about that.
You have to I think approve anyone from the parents’ Facebook page that you allow on with your kids. Which is certainly a —
STU: A big firewall. But you never know. These things are going to happen. YouTube Kids is an interesting part of this. Have you followed this sort of controversy that’s gone on in the past few months?
GLENN: No. By the way, hang on just a second. You might say there’s a firewall and you’re protecting your kids. Remember, they’re not using the information. They’ll never sell it or use it for advertising. But they are mapping who your kid is from six to 13. And Facebook will have your entire child’s history. That’s significant. Having a six-year period where they’ve poured themselves out into Facebook. They have all that information to market later. Anyway, go ahead.
STU: It’s true. YouTube, obviously everybody knows. YouTube is great. What an incredible service YouTube is. It’s free video. You can find almost anything.
GLENN: It’s great.
STU: And just like anything else with capitalism, and the Internet is a microcosm of capitalism. There is good, and there is bad there. Like, there’s incredible information. You can take classes from MIT. And you can do things —
GLENN: It’s amazing.
STU: More incredible — and the upside overwhelmingly outdoes the downside to me. But I mean, of course, it’s also a home of ridiculous conspiracy theories. It’s a home of people just getting into fights and hurting each other that people watch for entertainment.
STU: There’s a lot of crap on there too. So YouTube decided to — to form a YouTube Kids app. One of the reasons they did this was because what was happening was, mom and dad, hey, I need to put the kids down for five minutes in front of the TV. You know, go watch this Disney video or whatever silly video is on there. What would happen, is the algorithm over time, they could click on other things. Maybe it was something the parent had watched earlier, right? So they watched something a little edgier, with swears and everything in it. Kids would click on that when their video was done, and it would bring kids into an adult world, which was not what the intention was.
STU: So they created YouTube Kids, basically to keep all of the adult stuff out. There’s only a certain amount of videos that get into YouTube Kids. Again, generally speaking, a good idea.
GLENN: A good idea.
STU: So what happens was, there’s a lot of freaking weirdos in the world. A lot of freaking weirdos in the world. And what they were doing was taking beloved children’s characters and having them do really twisted weird things.
GLENN: Oh, I’ve seen this.
STU: People would dress up as princesses and punch people in the face. They would show, hey, Elsa goes to the dentist. And she would be tortured by the dentist in the dentist chair. A clown turns creepy and throws a kid in a washing machine. Like — and people — really crude animation where it would be fine for a while and then turn really weird and twist and had wrong. There’s a lot of different things —
GLENN: See, this is the problem with — and there’s no brand — tell me the brand you trust. Tell me the brand that you could put your kids in front of and just walk away.
STU: Yeah. It’s — it’s harder and harder to find those, right?
GLENN: Right. Disney Channel used to be that way. I don’t trust the Disney Channel. I mean, I’m a long time, you know, advocate of Disney has gone off the rails.
GLENN: And I don’t trust the Disney Channel. I don’t trust Nickelodeon. I don’t trust certainly MTV or any of the networks like Nickelodeon. What can you put your kids in front of?
And just walk away. There’s no brand anymore.
STU: Very little.
Well, and this is the thing. And, for example — one of my favorite programs that I’ve brought up before, Peppa Pig. Now, Peppa Pig is this little English pig.
GLENN: There’s a lot of those twisted Peppa Pig stuff.
STU: A lot of it is — because it’s very crude animation. So people recreate the animation and are able to have Peppa Pig do all sorts of terrible things. And, you know, YouTube has billions of videos they’re going through. They’re treated with algorithms. I honestly think they do the best they can to try to get these things to be right. What they find is weird things get popular. Weird things get clicked on. And the algorithm says kids like them. And they become more and more popular.
Now, because of this pushback, YouTube has really now cracked down over the past month and tried to get rid of these. But it’s an impossible program.
How can you possibly eliminate them? People just post the same videos under different names, from hundreds of different users. There’s no way. Some of these — some of these accounts have millions of millions of subscribers. Subscribers.
And they were just violent videos with kids in them. Kids bloodied faces because they would get hit. And it was acting. These kids weren’t necessarily actually being hurt thank God. But what is that? And so there have been reports of people who believe that this is conditioning from weirdo adults. It’s — it’s trying to get them to look at won’t things because it pleases the adults. And you see adults in the comments, you know, cheering this on and making all sorts of creepy comments.
And this is a kid’s program. So you basically can’t, right? I mean, obviously, as parents, we would all sit back and say, it’s a terrible idea to sit your kid in front of an i Pad and have them click around while you’re not standing right behind them, right? We all know that’s bad. But we all know the reality of the world is sometimes —
GLENN: It’s happening. It’s happening.
STU: — the kitchen is on fire. Sometimes there’s an emergency. Sometimes you’re on the phone with your insurance company, and you can’t have your kids yelling at each other while you’re doing it.
STU: You know, and it’s really hard. One of the reasons — it’s interesting. People bash TV and putting your kid in front of a TV. It’s becoming much more of the safe space. Where you throw on — yeah, you throw on, you know — even Nick Jr. Or, you might get kind of edgy content there. Some stuff you don’t like. Your complaints with Disney — but your complaints with the Disney Channel are nothing compared to what these kids can stumble in on with some random guy in Croatia —
GLENN: No. Disney Channel.
STU: — making a video for them.
GLENN: No. Disney Channel I would put on so much faster than just handing them the device and say, yeah, just look on YouTube.
GLENN: But they don’t watch television.
STU: Yeah, they don’t like —
GLENN: Getting my son to watch a television show now. He gets bored with it now. I don’t know.
What? They don’t watch them that way. He’ll watch for — it’s bizarre. You know that thing with the kids, that little kids. The people who opened toys.
STU: Oh, the unboxing stuff? Oh, gosh.
GLENN: That is weird as hell.
STU: And that stuff, even though it’s safe for kids largely, creates weird things in them.
I mean, one of the videos — some of — my kids would watch occasional videos of these little kids that review toys. They get these cool toys. They play with them in front of the camera.
It’s totally innocent, largely. But, like, the kids get the impression that there are other kids out there getting tons of toys sent to them every day to play with. Brand-new toys. Dozens of toys a week.
STU: And they’re like, wait a minute. But Ryan gets those toys. You know, Ryan is some kid — you know, these — there’s one video, in particular, Ryan’s Toys Reviews is a famous one. No knock on Ryan if he happens to be listening as a 6-year-old or whatever he is.
GLENN: Ryan, Stu hates you.
STU: I mean, the family I think is a good family. They like their kid. They made this — there’s nothing wrong with this. But like, they had a video. And I swear they have some deal with McDonald’s, in which Ryan is seemingly constantly eating McDonald’s in these videos. Which whatever. I have no problem with capitalism like this. You know what, if it’s a popular channel, this is a good brand for McDonald’s to associate itself with. I love McDonald’s as a kid, with or without commercials. Right?
But Ryan takes his little car, he has one of those battery-powered cars. And his parents play like McDonald’s with him. They’ll pull up to the window. And the window of their house. And they’ll put out McDonald’s. And he’ll drive away with it. And at one point, they made a video about how Ryan was going to drive to McDonald’s on his own. Right?
And when that happened, my kids kept asking me, when are we going to be able to drive to McDonald’s on our own? The answer is 16 years old. Okay?
But it’s putting weird priorities, right?
GLENN: My son —
STU: The same — one more thing. The same thing we, I think, as adults see other people with their Facebook page and how wonderful their families. And there’s never any problems.
GLENN: Yes, yes, yes.
STU: Kids — wait a minute. You’re saying no to me at Toys R Us? I never see anyone say no at Toys R Us. They get everything they want. Why don’t I get it?
GLENN: So my son is kind of going through the same thing on — one of the things that he for a while said he wanted to be. And I was like, no. Was a gamer. But a reviewer of games. And I’m like, no. No.
GLENN: No, no, no, no. No, no, no. No. No. If you want to do that on the side and it becomes huge, great. But you’re — no. No.
STU: When you’re an adult.
GLENN: When you’re an adult, you can think of that. When I’m dead and I don’t have to worry about you anymore, fine.
But they watch these — and it starts with the kids, watching, you know — you know, opening packages and stuff.
They watch people playing video games.
GLENN: And I —
STU: I don’t understand why you don’t just play them.
GLENN: Yeah, I just don’t get it.
GLENN: Why don’t you go outside and play in the fresh air, you freak!