In a sweeping policy change announced today, Google is disabling YouTube comments on nearly every video on the platform which features at least one minor. The company made the announcement on its YouTube Creator Blog.
According to the blog post, Google is instituting the huge alteration to YouTube comments due to “predatory behavior.”
This reasoning is sound, as it recently came to light that child predators use YouTube comments as gateways to “wormholes” of child pornography. In a video explaining how it works, former YouTuber Matt Watson shows how a search for a keyword unrelated to child pornography can easily lead you to content most would consider predatory.
However, the new policy is also likely in response to accusations that internet trolls are using YouTube comments policies to take down seemingly-innocuous channels. This abuse of a system which is there for good reasons was likely the final straw for Google, although it makes no mention of this in its announcement.
Google does make it clear in the announcement that it is leaving YouTube comments open for “a small number of creators,” although it doesn’t say which ones. It also promises to add more creators to this whitelist as soon as possible.
In related news, Google is also launching a new YouTube comments classifier which identifies and blocks perceptively-abusive comments. This classifier, according to Google, is twice as effective as the previous classifier.
You can read Google’s full statement on the matter here.