5 Dec 2017

Exclusive: Adults using YouTube to groom children into making inappropriate videos

A Channel 4 News investigation reveals how adults have used YouTube to message young children and groom them into making inappropriate videos on-demand.

Adults have used YouTube to message young children and groom them into making inappropriate videos on-demand, a Channel 4 News investigation can reveal.

Once uploaded, the children’s videos receive comments requesting more specific content, as well as demands for the child’s contact details. In some instances children comply with these demands.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, told the programme: “It’s clearly grooming, luring the children into doing it, it’s dangerous. YouTube is hugely popular with children – they have an obligation.”

Channel 4 News has witnessed examples where children are contacted by strangers online with what sounds like a harmless dare – in return for viewers.

Children fall for this trick, they end up filming intimate videos in their bedrooms, for the gratification of total strangers – who then push the kids to go even further.

Once the clip is uploaded – the demands increase: “Something like this sweetheart, could you do this for me please?”; “Bare feet now.”; “Next part without socks please. If you do it I will subscribe to you.”

Channel 4 News has seen examples of children complying with these escalating demands which are then followed by requests for their contact details: “Do you have any social media?”

Again, some kids willingly comply: “Yes, I’ll edit into the description, my Instagram is…. ”

The “challenge” videos and comments found by Channel 4 News had not been caught by YouTube’s recent crackdown on inappropriate content, which saw hundreds of thousands of videos and comments deleted.

YouTube has deleted accounts, videos and comments that we flagged up to the website.

A YouTube spokesperson told Channel 4 News: “Content that misleads or endangers children is abhorrent and unacceptable to us. In recent months we’ve taken aggressive steps to tackle the emerging challenges around family content on YouTube. In the past week alone, we’ve removed videos, turned off inappropriate comments and terminated hundreds of accounts.”

Today YouTube also announced it will hire 10,000 more staff to police the site.

Releasing a new safety video today the National Crime Agency also warned of “dares and tricks” being used to groom children. The new trend, they say, is children live-streaming videos from their phones which potentially gives the YouTube groomers a whole new playground.