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YouTube pulls autocomplete results that showed child abuse terms

The company promises to investigate why it happened, too.
Rob LeFebvre, @roblef
November 27, 2017
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YouTube has been working hard lately to fix issues around child exploitation and abuse. The Google-owned video service revamped its policies and their enforcement around videos featuring minors or family-friendly characters in disturbing situations. Over the weekend, the company promised a crackdown on inappropriate comments on kid-friendly videos in response to big-name brands pulling their advertisements from the respective content. Now, YouTube is working to fix a problem with its autocomplete system that was finishing the search term "how to have" with "s*x with kids."

When reached for comment, a Google spokesperson told Engadget: "Earlier 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."

As noted by The Guardian, YouTube's autocomplete uses algorithms based on frequently-used search terms. The appearance of the disturbing autocomplete result could have been created by a group of people working together to make the term trend on YouTube, much like hashtags on Twitter. The Guardian reports that none of the results linked to the autocompleted search showed abusive videos. Our own testing this morning only shows "how to have s*x in school" as the top result.

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