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What's the deal with disturbing YouTube videos that look like they're for kids but are strange and upsetting?

Picture this: Your kid has settled in to watch what looks like a nice Peppa Pig video. The title of the video looked age-appropriate and your kid instantly recognized the familiar characters. But after a few minutes of normal play, the story goes horribly wrong. The characters start cursing, bleeding violently, or engaging in other disturbing acts. What's up with these strange videos that look like they're for kids but definitely are not? And why does YouTube show them to you?

Weird videos using familiar kids' TV characters are a thing on YouTube. They belong to a category of video called YouTube Poop (YTP). YTP is a mashup of familiar characters, images, and stories that go off the rails. People create them using video-editing software that lets them splice in clips from real shows. Though these videos deceive and scare people, that's not necessarily the creators' intention. More likely, they're trying to impress other fans of YTP (yes, they exist), mock kids' entertainment, and provoke YouTube by exposing weaknesses in the way the company serves up video content. The very fact that you clicked on the video sends data to YouTube that you like the video and want to see more in the same vein.

YouTube's algorithm came under fire when there was a public outcry over these disturbing videos showing up in the YouTube Kids app. In response, Google tightened up the restrictions on the videos it funnels to the YouTube Kids app. It also started requiring creators to designate their videos "for kids," so theoretically the weird ones intended for teens and older fans wouldn't display in your kid's feed. But while YouTube has some ways of verifying whether videos are really "for kids," the designation is the discretion of the creator, who may be willing to risk Google's consequences (such as suspension from the platform) to trick people. Google wants YouTube to remain a platform where users can express their creativity, and even though these videos are disturbing, they don't always violate YouTube's terms of service.

To reduce the risk of your kids seeing these disturbing videos, there are a few things you can do. In addition to using only the YouTube Kids app, you can use Restricted Mode, and remember to flag inappropriate videos, so YouTube won't show them to you.

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Comments

Teen, 14 years old written by Togedemaru23

If you let under 10s browse on YouTube, you're exposing them to lots of inappropriate content no matter what. YouTube Poop is actually quite hilarious at times, but you should probably be old enough first. It's not disturbing, and it's very creative most of the time. Just look up Despacito 2 on YouTube and you'll see what I mean. Also, even though there are family-friendly YTP creators, I don't recommend kids watch them since they are still very hyperactive (though they are funny).
Teen, 14 years old written by pastelmoonnn

Well I don’t really know because some young kids have YouTube channels and they get hate you could just turn of comments or disable them in every vid your kid posts
Teen, 14 years old written by Poodonkus913

YTP isn't always why these videos come into existence. The purpose isn't quite known but the most common and most believable answer is that "Elsagate" content is designed to get views. Shocking topics and cartoon characters get views and likes and comments. Theorists may say there's a more sinister story behind it, but I can't speak for all (or any) creators of the content
Teen, 13 years old written by Ky4h

Use the YouTube Kids app. These types of videos aren't made by people who want to traumatize kids, they're made for teens and adults who are interested in that type of content. Therefore, those types of videos shouldn't show up on videos for kids. Also, if you see something you don't recognize, it's always best to research it.
Parent written by Cooldee

In my opinion, an adult should always be with their child or children whenever they are watching videos online, but if that is not possible, use very strict parental controls or don't allow them to unsupervised.
Parent of a 9 and 13-year-old written by nobodys_winds

Good article, but a few things i'd like to say from the perpective of a YTP fan and creator. You're getting YouTube Poops confused with Elsagate. Trust me when i say, it's very hard to make a YouTube Poop disturbing on accident. I'd like you to go onto YouTube and type in "YTP" and watch the first video that pops up. I guarentee you, whatever you watch will be nothing like what's described here. The videos described here, with Peppa Pig being murdered and everything, belong to a phenomenon called "Elsagate", where innocent cartoon characters, such as Elsa from Frozen, are put in scenarios like the ones described above. They are disgusting, and frankly i wouldn't watch them if you payed me ten million dollars to do it. But YTP videos and Elsagate videos are very different from each other. Take it from somebody who has dedicated the last year of their channel to YouTube Poops. If you're not cool with mature content, YouTube Poops definately aren't for you, but they are miles better than anything on YouTube Kids circa 2016. nobodys_winds out.
Teen, 17 years old written by epickid1

You are a TOYYYYYYYYYYY! also, thanks for giving REAL research rather than making stuff up like the other people do!
Teen, 17 years old written by toby woby

Agreed! YTPs are made for comedic, entertainment, and satirical reasons, not to be malicious (and YTPs don't just edit kid shows).
Kid, 12 years old

The question is, why are you letting your kids watch YouTube in the first place? It was never designed with kids in mind and if your child just wants to watch Peppa pig or whatever, either buy a DVD of it (where there's a 100% chance of nothing going wrong or just *gasp* Watching it on TV like it was meant to be watched! As a child I only watched kids TV and DVDs. The only way I watched online video was on Amazon and YouTube wasn't even a thing I had heard of (of course this changed). TL;DR don't let your kids watch YouTube.
Kid, 11 years old

There are multiple kinds of these, one being YouTube Poops, YTPs for short. YTPs are designed to be offensive as a joke, usually to mock an event or person. A common theme is to make jokes out of school shootings and tragic incidents, or the death of a certain media star/character within the show. Then, there are the other types of videos with strange titles that aimed towards kids, but are really messed up. One I heard of was titled, ¨Mickey Mouse Baby Dies in Gas Explosion Funny Pregnant Minnie Suicide¨ Or something like that. They are aimed towards kids. Overall, some of the best channels for kids are Dude Perfect, Slow-Mo guys, Good mythical morning, Sesame Street and Peanut Butter Gamer. These are all good for both boys and girls and don´t make garbage videos that have 24 ads.