Another month, another stupid trend taking the Internet by storm. This time it is the absolutely bird-brained Bird Box challenge. Now, YouTube has had enough of this stupid trend and has outright banned the stunt from its platform.

Yesterday, YouTube updated its policies and banned this and other harmful stunts and pranks. Banned stunts and pranks do not just include those that can cause physical harm, but “severe emotional distress” or make participants feel they are in “serious physical danger” as well.

In an FAQ posted to its support site, YouTube wrote: “We’ve updated our external guidelines to make it clear that challenges like the Tide Pod challenge or the Fire challenge, that can cause death and/or have caused death in some instances, have no place on YouTube.”

There will be a two-month leeway period where YouTube won’t apply a strike against channels that violate the policy. YouTube will still, however, remove any videos posted before or during that period that violate the policy.

The video platform will also ban videos of pranks that involve faux home invasions, drive-by shootings, kidnappings, etc. – basically, stuff that can leave people emotionally scarred for life.

YouTube updated its policy merely a day after a teen crashed his car while attempting the Bird Box challenge. The stunt requires individuals to attempt to drive their vehicles blindfolded, akin to the way characters did in the Netflix movie Bird Box.

Another brainless stunt that’s been outright banned is the Kiki challenge, inspired by Canadian rapper Drake’s single “In My Feelings.” The dance move was a viral hit in September 2018, but the Kiki challenge was potentially dangerous as well. People would get out of their cars and have the driver film them dancing with the passenger door open and the car still moving. Most of the times people failed hard leading to some hilarious moments, but YouTube decided it’s not worth the risk.

Thankfully it wasn’t as dangerous as the Bird Box challenge, which is outright lethal. YouTube will definitely be missing out on a large chunk of profit, as these videos easily garner millions of views. But YouTube is making the platform safer by removing such videos.

YouTube said it worked with child psychologists “to develop guidelines around the types of pranks that cross this line.” Child welfare became a grave matter for the platform when the YouTube channel “DaddyOFive” was cast into the limelight for making videos featuring the emotional and verbal abuse of children.

That channel was run by Mike and Heather Martin and had to be taken down for the extremely abusive nature of the pranks the parents played on their own children. The couple ended up losing custody of two of their kids.

YouTube has also posted a video explaining that videos that contain profanity won’t receive ad support (and therefore won’t make money):

The platform will also be handing out strikes to videos that external sites linked to YouTube that don’t follow community guidelines as well as users who employ thumbnail images that contain pornographic or violent imagery. Three strikes will lead to YouTube deleting the channel.

There was a definite need for YouTube implementing stricter guidelines regarding pranks and dangerous viral videos. Some might complain that their freedom of speech is being impinged upon, but that’s a whole different discussion.

YouTube is a private business so it has certain rules that people need to adhere to. It will do everything to protect its reputation. Now, will this move prevent people from performing these pranks? Probably not. But it will make them think twice before uploading such videos.

Pranksters make these videos for the simplest of reasons – likes and attention. If they know their videos won’t see the light of day, they might not put their lives and decency on the line. They could always turn to other platforms to seek the public’s attention for now, but YouTube is by far the most prolific. 

In the meantime, it’s up to other social media networks to implement stricter guidelines to stop the spread of these ill-conceived and dangerous pranks and “social experiments.”

Avatar for Muhammad Nouman Sarwar

Muhammad Nouman Sarwar

Tech Enthusiast. Tech Journalist covering mobile technologies. I have both Computer Science and Law degrees and love to write about technology’s uses and advancements.

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