- _SJP1857 / Wikimedia Commons
- YouTube has fixed an autocomplete bug on its site that suggested “how to have s*x with your kids” as a top search result.
- The company is investigating the autocomplete result, which is normally based on the popularity of a given search.
- It’s the latest controversy to hit YouTube and inappropriate content relating to children.
- Alt-right commentators are noticeably the most publicly vocal about the problem and have accused YouTube of conservative censorship.
YouTube is in trouble for potentially paedophilic content on its site again.
This time, the site has been showing an inappropriate autocomplete search result for the term “how to have”, which automatically populates as “how to have s*x with your kids”, according to BuzzFeed.
The issue was first reported by BuzzFeed early on Monday morning, after users flagged the issue.
YouTube has now removed that particular result. When Business Insider typed in “how to have” on YouTube it comes up with the more harmless suggestion “how to have your first kiss.” Lower down in the autocomplete results, there’s “how to have s*x in school.”
YouTube did not respond to a request for comment, but told outraged users on Twitter: “This is an awful autocomplete result and we really appreciate you making us aware. We’ve removed it and are working to remove similar results. We will continue to investigate what caused this!”
It’s the latest scandal to hit YouTube, after media investigations found predators were leaving creepy comments under YouTube videos of children, and that content creators posted inappropriate content targeted at kids.
It’s possible someone gamed the autocomplete results
Autocomplete results are usually based on popular searches.
An unnamed source suggested to BuzzFeed that the inappropriate “how to have” results might be due to a co-ordinated troll attack. YouTube hasn’t commented on this possibility.
What is noticeable is that chronological scans of Twitter, Reddit, “free speech” platform Gab, and YouTube show that controversial alt-right and right-wing users were among the first to notice the problem, several hours before the BuzzFeed story. Many have used the problem to further a common alt-right complaint: That YouTube censors conservative creators while allowing paedophiles to roam freely on its platform.
One of the earliest flaggers on Twitter was the conservative account @RealRedElephant, which wrote: “Wow. YouTube’s search results favors the phrase “how to have s*x with your kids,” six hours before BuzzFeed published.
The account’s name is a reference to the Republic party, and the Red Elephants’ YouTube account posts videos such as “Here’s Why it’s OKAY To Be White.” An earlier tweet shows @RealRedElephant complaining to YouTube about the removal of a video.
Other right-wing commentators quickly followed up. They included Mike Cernovich, a right-wing activist who promoted the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory; Andrew Torba, the founder of Gab; and Blaire White, a commentator often associated with the alt-right. All posted about the inappropriate results several hours before BuzzFeed.
There’s no evidence to suggest that any of them could have been responsible for co-ordinating an attack on YouTube’s autocomplete search results.
But all have form for claiming that YouTube “censors” conservative commentators and slamming the platform for its alleged liberal bias. White, Cernovich, and many others used the scandal to iterate those complaints.
Cernovich tweeted: “Hi @YouTube, You need to get this fixed asap. If you think I’m not talking to members of Congress about this, ask around. Ask John Conyers about me. You are CENSORING my journalism while allowing pedophile content.”
White, who has previously said YouTube demonetised her channel, wrote: “Why the actual FUCK does “how to have sex with your kids” pop up as suggested when you type “how to have” in the @YouTube search? How about you guys stop demonetizing innocent content and focus on this???”
Their comments have led to a flood of right-wing abuse levelled at YouTube and its chief executive, Susan Wojcicki, on Twitter.