YouTube has disabled comments on videos featuring minors which "could be at risk of attracting predatory behaviour" in the wake of reports that a paedophile ring was hiding in plain sight under videos of children.
The platform confirmed in its corporate blog that it had blocked comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behaviour.
"These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months," YouTube said, while also announcing the launch of a new comments classifier that will detect and remove predatory comments.
It comes as US-based vlogger Matt Davis discovered a "wormhole into a soft-core paedophilia ring". He showed how by clicking on certain kinds of videos (e.g. bikini clips), a user would be recommended to watch videos with children.
These videos appeared to be inundated with provocative comments, with paedophiles sharing timestamps where the kids would take potentially suggestive poses.
Predators would also openly trade their social media contacts in the comments and share links to actual child pornography.
Davis suggested that it was a glitch or an error in YouTube's recommendation algorithm that facilitated this, and that these videos were also being monetised by YouTube, including through pre-roll ads.
This exposé caused a public outcry, with several major companies, including Disney, Nestle, McDonald's and Epic Games, pulling their ads from YouTube.