YouTube has updated its community guidelines to address the rise in dangerous prank videos. The streaming service will now ban challenges that present “a risk of serious danger or death, and pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger, or cause children to experience severe emotional distress.” The announcement comes just a day after a teenager in Utah crashed a car while driving it blindfolded for the Bird Box challenge.
The Netflix movie has inspired people to perform tasks while blindfolded, in spite of the service issuing a plea not to do so:
Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 2, 2019
YouTube has clarified what it considers to be a harmful prank, stating that it will ban any video that doesn’t meet its new guidelines:
YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, but we need to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous. 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.
We’ve made it clear that our policies prohibiting harmful and dangerous content also extend to pranks with a perceived danger of serious physical injury. We don’t allow pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger – for example, a home invasion prank or a drive-by shooting prank. We also don’t allow pranks that cause children to experience severe emotional distress, meaning something so bad that it could leave the child traumatized for life.
We’ve worked directly with child psychologists to develop guidelines around the types of pranks that cross this line. Examples include, the fake death of a parent or severe abandonment or shaming for mistakes.
In addition to pranks, YouTube is rolling out new guidelines for custom thumbnails. Thumbnails that contain pornography or violence will lead to a Community Guidelines strike, even if the video itself doesn’t infringe on YouTube’s content policies. Similarly, any external links to pornography, malware, or spam wiill also receive a strike. YouTube says three strikes in the span of 90 days will result in the account getting banned.