One of the biggest companies that allows YouTubers to create thousands of short videos each month will begin to ban sexually explicit content in March.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which owns the character of Doc McStuffins and many other publications, will begin to delete videos from Jim Henson’s FunLabs that include sexual content — that is, a sexual act that makes up more than a minute of the video. They will continue to allow YouTube videos for children because under the company’s rules, educational content will still be allowed.
Perhaps even more notable than the announcement is how independent of corporate content purveyors it will be. As a result, the news is sure to have an impact on the video streaming service as well as the YouTubers.
It is worth noting that Not One Less, a group of women who have spoken out about online censorship, criticized Not One Less for inviting “larger companies that are notorious for employing third parties in their censorship efforts,” to discuss online sexual harassment. The group supported Not One Less’s announcement, in part, because of what the Not One Less member Shelley Goldenberg described as a “considerable difference” between the concerns of Not One Less and the firm mentioned in the Times article. Not One Less responded by affirming that their policies were in line with what they had originally agreed to.
The decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises to move away from videos with sexually explicit content is controversial for several reasons. The company, known for its commitment to protecting children’s voices, chose its original policy for the sole purpose of protecting children. The move will hurt children, according to the Family Research Council, which represents families that are against “free-expression” like the ones available on YouTube. The decision also sends a message about where “free speech” stops, the FRC said, asking what would happen if young children found a Donald Trump tweet offensive.
The decision to censor Orangetheory Fitness, an exercise video channel, is not so controversial. Some parents feel unsafe at the videos’ age-inappropriate sexual content, the company says, the American Federation of Teachers agrees. Some young children are vulnerable to sexual predators, AFT said, and the company’s decision could potentially “injure children by making them feel unsafe.”
Many old YouTube videos, including clips of children screaming at lions and “Happy Days” episodes, are now private. That’s not a good sign.