YouTube has updated its guidelines to explicitly ban dangerous prank and challenge videos - and it's giving users two months to clean up their act.
In an FAQ page posted on Tuesday, YouTube clarified its community guidelines on banning videos which "can cause death and/or have caused death in some instances."
It specifically cited the "Tide pod challenge," a short-lived meme from last year in which people consumed poisonous laundry detergent Tide pods.
The "Bird Box" challenge is a more recent phenomenon, in which people try to go about performing normal tasks blindfolded, as inspired by the Netflix film "Bird Box."
Although not referenced by YouTube, some users have indulged in potentially dangerous versions of the stunt, including Youtuber Jake Paul who filmed himself driving while blindfolded. YouTube subsequently removed the video. A teenager in Utah also crashed her car while doing the "Bird Box" challenge.
When asked by Business Insider, YouTube said the clarification had not been prompted by any specific internet challenge and that it had been in the works for months. A spokesman said:
"YouTube has long prohibited videos which promote harmful or dangerous activities and we routinely review and update our enforcement guidelines to make sure they're consistent and appropriately address emerging trends.
"We heard feedback from creators that we could provide some clarity on certain Community Guidelines, so we published materials detailing our policies against pranks that cause others to seriously fear for their safety or that cause serious emotional distress to children and vulnerable individuals."
YouTube has been known to enforce these guidelines before, in July 2018 it banned the YouTube channel "FamilyOFive" over concerns of child endangerment.
In its FAQ post, YouTube told creators that they have a two month "grace period" in which to clean up their channels of any offending content, during which time YouTube will remove videos but not hand out strikes to channels. Strikes are warnings to users - if they get too many in a short period of time, YouTube terminates their account.
A cursory search of YouTube shows the scale of the task it faces in keeping stunt videos under control. Searching for the "Bird Box" challenge brings up countless results, while it also appearing among suggested search terms.
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