YouTube Revises Content Guidelines After Rise of 'Bird Box' Challenge

BIRD BOX Still 1 - Julian Edwards, Sandra Bullock, Vivien Lyra Blair- Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Netflix

The platform has banned prank or stunt videos that have the potential to cause physical harm or death, and will be evaluating risky content over a grace period of the next two months.

In response to the Bird Box challenge, in which people wear blindfolds to engage in daily activities just like Sandra Bullock's character in the Netflix thriller, YouTube has updated its policies to clearly state that challenges that have the potential to cause death or physical injury "have no place on YouTube."

The platform said in a statement, “We heard feedback from creators that we could provide some clarity on certain community guidelines, so we published materials detailing our policies against pranks that cause others to seriously fear for their safety or that cause serious emotional distress to children and vulnerable individuals.”

Continuing the update, YouTube advised, "We don’t allow pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger — for example, a home invasion prank or a drive-by shooting prank. We also don’t allow pranks that cause children to experience severe emotional distress, meaning something so bad that it could leave the child traumatized for life."

In order to identify the types of pranks that affect children negatively, YouTube worked with child psychologists to develop specific guidelines about content that "crosses the line."

Currently, Bird Box challenge videos on YouTube include teenagers wearing blindfolds and driving their car, shopping in a mall, playing sports, running an obstacle course and applying makeup. Some participants have even worn a blindfold for 24 hours straight. 

YouTube advises that this risky content will be evaluated over a "grace period" of the next two months and promptly removed if it is deemed unsafe to the participant or others who may copy their actions.