YouTube is investigating reports that its auto-fill search features are suggesting âprofoundly disturbingâ child abuse terms.
Users reported seeing auto-suggestions of âs*x with your kidsâ and other variants after entering the phrase âhow to haveâ in the search box on the Google-owned site. Experts have speculated that the search terms â several of which use the asterisked word âs*xâ â may have been deliberately aimed at embarrassing the site, avoiding YouTubeâs filters for terms such as âsexâ.
The latest incident comes days after major brands, including Mars, Lidl and Adidas, pulled their adverts from Google and YouTube after predatory comments were found on videos of children.
A YouTube spokeswoman said: âEarlier today our teams were alerted to this profoundly disturbing autocomplete result and we worked to quickly remove it as soon as we were made aware. We are investigating this matter to determine what was behind the appearance of this autocompletion.â
Because some of YouTubeâs search algorithms are based on popularity, some have suggested that a coordinated effort by a group of people could have caused the searches to appear higher in results than they would organically.
None of the results linked to the âhow to haveâ search showed videos of children being abused.
Following last weekâs incident over comments, Johanna Wright, vice-president of product management at YouTube said: âWeâre wholly committed to addressing these issues and will continue to invest the engineering and human resources needed to get it right. As a parent and as a leader in this organisation, Iâm determined that we do.â
YouTube recently announced new âtoughenedâ guidelines on videos featuring children and âvideos that attempt to pass as family friendly but are clearly notâ, which it says have already resulted in thousands of videos and more than 50 channel accounts being removed from the site.