new-aesthetic: Among the millions of…


Among the millions of algorithmically-generated videos on YouTube attempting to hack keyword searches, autoplay rankings, and human cognition, a very sizeable number are aimed at children, playing on common YouTube tropes such as nursery rhymes, surprise eggs, learning colours and popular songs and characters.

A very significant number of these however are intentionally disturbing, segueing from standard cartoon fare into nightmarish situations of pain, fear, violence and abuse, with a notable propensity for things which particularly trouble children: dentistry, blood, injections, insects, and evil clowns. The knock-off Peppa Pigs above are at the very mildest end of this spectrum.

What is particularly troubling is that while there is a connection here to the kind of algorithmic weirdness that youtube and other similar complex computational systems throw up with increasing regularity (the rape tshirts, the adult diaper phone cases), this is a deliberate, intentional attempt to terrorise and traumatise children, performed on a massive scale, using Youtube and its algorithms as its attack vector.

References, in ascending order of disturbingness:

YouTube has a fake Peppa Pig problem - The Outline

Disturbing, fake YouTube shows fool kids for more clicks - Engadget

On YouTube Kids, Startling Videos Slip Past Filters - New York Times

Something is Terribly Wrong With Many “Kids” Videos on YouTube – Vigilant Citizen