People can be pretty crazy on the internet, and there’s no place to see that more clearly than viral challenges. Following last year’s Tide Pod fiasco and now the current “Bird Box Challenge,” YouTube has announced that it is banning challenges and pranks which are inherently dangerous or life-threatening.

In a brief post, YouTube explains this new policy change. For quite some time, the platform has discouraged users from posting videos along this line, but there have been no consequences or action from YouTube. Now, though, YouTube will be actively removing these videos and also issuing strikes to channels which post them.

YouTube’s updated guidelines relate to challenges as those which “can cause death and/or have caused death.” In the case of the Tide Pod challenge, ingesting toxic chemicals is a clear violation. As for the more recent Bird Box challenge, just this week we’ve seen someone get into an accident while doing the challenge.

As for pranks, the new policy prohibits anything “with a perceived danger of serious physical injury.” This includes making someone believe they’re in serious physical danger – YouTube cites drive-by shooting or home invasion pranks as examples – or anything which could leave a “child traumatized for life.”

YouTube has a full FAQ guide available for more specifics on this information, but content will start being removed soon. For the next two months, anything already uploaded won’t be counted as a strike towards the channel, although it will be removed. Following that grace period, videos like this which are uploaded can count as a strike towards the channel. Three of those can result in the channel being shut down completely.

Dangerous challenges and pranks: Reminder – content that encourages violence or dangerous activities that may result in serious physical harm, distress or death violates our harmful and dangerous policy, so we’re clarifying what this means for dangerous challenges and pranks. YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, but we need to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous. We’ve updated our external guidelines to make it clear that we prohibit challenges presenting a risk of serious danger or death, and pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger, or cause children to experience severe emotional distress.

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Ben Schoon

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