- ABC News via YouTube
- YouTube has shut down the popular FamilyOFive channel over “child endangerment” concerns.
- The channel racked up 176 million views and featured couple, Michael and Heather Martin, playing pranks on their children.
- Michael and Heather were convicted of child neglect in September 2017 and lost custody of two of their five children.
YouTube has terminated the popular FamilyOFive channel, in which couple Michael and Heather Martin posted “prank” videos featuring their children, over child abuse concerns.
Michael Martin started vlogging on the channel DaddyOFive, where he and his wife Heather orchestrated “pranks” on their five children. The Martins drew criticism as many viewed the “pranks” as child abuse.
In one video, Michael prompted one of the children to slap his sister, and another showed him pushing his young son Cody into a bookcase.
The Martins have maintained in the past that the videos are in part staged, and the children are in on the joke. Nevertheless in September, following outcry about a video where Michael and Heather squirted invisible ink on Cody’s carpet and then screamed obscenities at him, the pair were sentenced to five years probation for child neglect and lost custody of their two youngest children, Emma and Cody.
Following the conviction, the couple deleted all the videos on the DaddyOFive account – save one which stated that the pranks were fakes – and moved from Maryland to West Virginia where they recommenced vlogging from an account called FamilyOFive. The new account racked up 176 million views, according to the Guardian.
On Wednesday, YouTube shut down the FamilyOFive account, as well as an affiliated gaming channel operated by Michael. A YouTube spokesman said “content that endangers children is unacceptable to us.”
“We have worked extensively alongside experts in child safety to make sure we have strict policies and are aggressively enforcing them,” he told Business Insider. “Given this channel owner’s previous strikes for violating our guidelines prohibiting child endangerment, we’re removing all of his channels under our terms of service.”
The Martins told local news station WUSA9 in a written statement they have “worked very hard to reestablish and heal ourselves over the last 18 months” and intend to continue producing videos “within the strict boundaries we have set for ourselves.”
After YouTube banned the Martins, their children Jake, Ryan and Alex uploaded a video to a channel called Team DO5 Fans entitled “Goodbye Youtube,” in which they say that the pranks are harmless and planned.