The Youtube Kids app for iPad has failed to protect a three-year-old boy from a suicide- and murder-themed cartoon, styled like popular children's show PAW Patrol.
Staci Burn was cooking tea for her son, Isaac, when she heard him scream "Mummy, the monster scares me." Ms Burns walked over to discover that her son was not watching PAW Patrol, but instead a video titled "PAW Patrol Babies Pretend to Die Suicide by Annabelle Hypnotized." The video was animated in the same style as the children's show and depicted the characters dying after being hypnotised by the doll from the adult movie Annabelle.
Staci, who lives in Fort Wayne Indiana, was horrified for what her son had seen. "My poor little innocent boy, he's the sweetest thing," Ms Burn said according to the New York Times. "And then there are these horrible, horrible, evil people out there that just get their kicks off of making stuff like this to torment children."
YouTube Kids was released in 2015 and has about 11 million weekly users. But the filtering algorithm is not perfect and has also allowed disturbing videos such as Mickey Mouse lying in a pool of blood or Nick Jr characters attending a strip cub.
YouTube's global head of family and learning content Malik Ducard said the videos were the "extreme needle in the haystack". "Making the app family-friendly is of the utmost importance to us," Ducard said. In the last 30 days, less than .005% of the videos in the children's section were removed after being deemed inappropriate. Parents are encouraged to report any inappropriate videos they find.
The disturbing video can be seen here: