Children are being exposed to inappropriate content online through disturbing videos that are disguised as children’s clips.
The new trend of online content is not only making profit out of young children finding and watching these videos online, but it’s also tricking them into watching popular characters in sexual and violent situations.
Cyber safety expert and former undercover online detective Brett Lee is aiming to warn and educate parents on the dangers of leaving young children unsupervised on the web.
This newest trend, he says, is known as ‘Elsagate’ content, taken from the name of popular character Elsa from Disney’s movie Frozen.
The videos generally feature the character either as a cartoon or as someone dressed in costume – but the content is anything from fairytale-like. Other characters such as Spiderman, Peppa Pig and Mickey Mouse also feature prominently.
“I’m not a tech expert, I’m a detective. But it appears this is slipping under the algorithms whereby it’s thinking that it is content suitable for children but there is some very disturbing content there,” Brett told News.com.au.
“A lot of it is subliminal, there’s common themes like children getting left behind, getting injections, getting your foot caught in the escalator - things children would be fearful of.”
However, there are also videos showing more explicit content involving sexual acts, fetishes, even bodily harm and kidnapping.
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The prominence of ‘Elsagate’ videos has already lead to dedicated forums on social media where people are trying to get the message out about this disturbing content.
not enough people on twitter are aware of elsagate: a bizarre trend in youtube videos aimed for children where characters are depicted in sexual & violent situations— liv 🌻 (@saturnzbarz) November 19, 2017
videos with 10 million views about kidnappings, torture, sex, extreme violence are online with ads, on the youtube kids app. i dont understand how this is allowed at all??— liv 🌻 (@saturnzbarz) November 19, 2017
This is literally one of the creepiest, chilling, and disturbing things happening online right now.— Ian™ (@Geeko55) November 21, 2017
Those videos are disgusting. Whoever is behind them needs to be arrested.— Mari (@EXTRAh0tsauce) November 23, 2017
Luckily awareness of the inappropriate content has grown over the past 12 months and one of the biggest platforms for it – YouTube – has vowed to try harder to police these clips.
Brett stresses that in his decades doing this kind of work, nothing on the internet has really changed, the difference is that now more and more children have access to it online.
He agrees that simple monitoring software isn’t doing its job anymore and it’s up to the tech giants to have better measures.
YouTube released a statement recently saying it would focus on a crackdown on inappropriate videos on its platform, including child exploitation content.
“In recent months, we’ve noticed a growing trend around content on YouTube that attempts to pass as family-friendly, but is clearly not,” the company wrote in a blog post.
“While some of these videos may be suitable for adults, others are completely unacceptable, so we are working to remove them from YouTube.”
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