It's every parent's nightmare. A child hops on the computer for homework or to innocently play a game. But even a short time online can expose that child to an amazing array of obscenity, provocative material and links to porn on one of the world's most popular Internet sites - YouTube.
YouTube claims it is 'not for pornography or sexually explicit content.' But that's impossible to tell from its Web site. There's sexual material - including pornography - almost everywhere. Even before clicking on a video, obscene language and suggestive photos entice viewers to watch. There are pictures of porn stars, video captures of soft core porn scenes and virtually every dirty word used in almost every possible tense and combination.
A YouTube search only for the word 'porn' returned more than 330,000 results. Many of those have nothing to do with pornography or sex. The vast majority of those 330,000 also get few views and range from sex education videos to topics totally unrelated to sex.
But the most popular videos often are the ones you most want to keep out of the reach of children. There were 157 videos with the word 'porn' in the title that had more than 1 million views. Nearly two-thirds of those (101 out of 157) advertise themselves - by photo, title or description - to be actual pornography.
Those 101 videos had more than 438 million combined views as of May 20. That's enough video for 1.38 views for every man, woman and child in the United States.
One video was from a 'playlist' called '10 Girl Kiss' with a picture of two Asian women kissing. It was typical. Lesbianism was a common theme. The 'Related Videos' offered more - and more graphic - videos with names like 'Hot Explosive Female Orgasm - Lesbian Rape,' and 'XXX Sex Porn - Lesbians, Blonde Girl Hardcore Sex …' The actual video was restricted to anyone '18 .' But none of the other content was held back. And the only requirement for a visitor to see the video is to claim he or she was 18.
Another video, available for everyone to see, was a scene from an actual porn movie involving a man asking a woman for oral sex while his wife called on the phone. The husband was shown urging a prostitute to give him a 'blow job.' The video scene ended with the woman unfastening the man's pants.
YouTube has been criticized for this type of content before. Demands from concerned parents' groups, backed by a content study from the Parents Television Council , forced the company to take steps to clean up the site in December 2008. In a post on the company's blog, it announced, 'we're tightening the standard for what is considered 'sexually suggestive,'' making it age-restricted and relegating it to light-traffic areas of the site.
More than six months later, YouTube remains strewn with adult content.
YouTube claims that such adult material - and everything else - is kept away from young viewers. 'Children under 13 years are not permitted to access YouTube,' the company's 'Teen Safety' guidelines claim.
But that's not exactly true. YouTube has no way to prevent anyone 13 or younger from using the site. That is left entirely to parents and schools to monitor. YouTube has absolutely no way of knowing the age of the users who access most of the material. Unless Internet users login and volunteer that they are under age, YouTube has no ability to restrict the content.
And young people have used it - sometimes in horrible ways. A recent cyberbullying case involved a video called 'The Top 6 ways to Kill Piper.' According to the Associated Press, the video showed five girls describing ways to kill a sixth-grade classmate. 'The cartoon was made off school grounds by some of her daughter's classmates, girls aged 11 and 12,' wrote AP.
Even when using the site as it is intended, young people can discover outlandish material that would stun most any parent. One of the videos that appeared in the porn search was called appropriately 'Aladdin Porn,' and was a redone version of the animated Disney feature 'Aladdin.' The video  employed a new, dirty soundtrack that had been overdubbed onto scenes from the original.
Much of that soundtrack was devoted to sex or four-letter words. The 'F' word was used twice, along with several other curse words. The Genie, voiced by Robin Williams in the real movie, instead took on the character of a porn film producer. 'C'mon baby lets see some of that nasty s***: Oral, anal, rim-jobs, pile-drive, cowgirl - all that nasty s***,' he went on. 'F*** her already,' said the parrot at the end of the scene.
That was just one example of what the supposedly porn-free YouTube is really like. Dr. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America, who's book, 'Children at Risk: The Precarious State of Children's Well-Being in America," will be out from Transaction Publishers in the fall of 2009, cautions parents to be vigilant against companies like YouTube: 'While our children work on their school assignments and play games on the Internet, uninvited and unwelcome guests, like YouTube, barge in exposing them to pornographic images, hard-core pornography, crudity, coarse, vulgar and offensive language and behavior.'
The Culture & Media Institute undertook a study of YouTube in May 2009. Analysts searched the site for the most-watched videos with the word 'porn' in the title, and analyzed and read the descriptions and comments of the 157 videos that garnered more than 1 million views. Further, CMI conducted ancillary searches for obscenity, and studied some of YouTube's most subscribed 'channels.'
Please note: It is nearly impossible to convey the true nature of the content in question without being nearly as obscene as the material itself. The Culture and Media Institue did its best to walk a line between informing and offending. Some of what follows is potentially offensive.
1. Porn Portal
'YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content. If this describes your video, even if it's a video of yourself, don't post it on YouTube.' - YouTube Content Guidelines.
There's a song from the Broadway musical, 'Avenue Q,' that has been used to make a variety of videos using Sesame Street characters, Disney film clips and even 'World of WarCraft' animation. Six of the most-watched 'porn' videos on YouTube are versions of the song. 'The Internet is for Porn' is a funny song (and utterly inappropriate for children). Unfortunately, as YouTube clearly demonstrates, it's also accurate.
A search for the word 'porn' on YouTube results in more than 330,000 videos. Sorted by 'most viewed,' well over 100 boasted more than 1 million views. Of those, 101 clearly advertised themselves as sexually explicit or titillating (as opposed to the informational, scholarly or humorous videos with 'porn' in the title).
Roughly two-thirds of those top videos have 438,318,147 combined views - that's 1.38 views for every man, woman and child in the United States.
Many of those most watched videos are pranks ('Rickrolls' is the Web term) or subterfuges to get viewers for 9-11 'Truther' sites or AbolishtheSenate.org. But there's no shortage of real porn on YouTube. Much of it consists of 'teasers' for Internet porn sites.
Of the 101 most viewed 'porn' videos, more than 50 (52 out of 101) are ads for hardcore porn sites. These teaser videos show some highly suggestive soft-core porn. This includes seduction, sexually charged kissing and foreplay, various states of undress short of full nudity, and plenty of obscene or sexually explicit language. They may have pop-ups with direct links to the hardcore sites, or give Web addresses that direct viewers there. There were also several 'informational' videos that simply are listings of free porn sites, or advertise porn site passwords.
To access 45 of those 101 most watched 'porn' videos, viewers must have an account and have verified that they are 18 or older.
Introduced in December of 2008, the company explained its new 18 designation as, 'Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they'll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older.'
But 18 is not a difficult hurdle and is something the company has no way to verify. All that's needed is a valid e-mail address. Besides, if an adult has an account, a child using the same computer can log in if he knows the username and password, or will have account access from an ongoing session. Either way, there's a good chance for children to access the 18 content.
Once past the 18 test (such as it is), a viewer won't see nudity, (unless it is in unflagged material) but the viewer can see straight, gay or lesbian seductions and 'making out.' Many of these clips end with the message, 'YouTube guidelines don't allow us to show you any more. To see the rest, go to …' The viewer is now just a click away from the most graphic pornography on the Internet.
And porn sites aren't the only ads. There are 'dating' sites and services as well. A popup ad on one video read, 'Meet sex partner from your city within 3 hours.-[url].'
The comments sections of these videos are also prime advertising space for porn, 'dating' and phone sex:
p4ryre  (3 weeks ago)
Lacey Duvalle f***s her tight friend! - [url]
forgivemes  (2 months ago)
hot vids, hot girls and 1-night-stand fun, [url]_
LunaPearlyNia  (4 days ago)
if anyone wants to f*** me just send me an e-mail
13lovelovelove  (1 week ago)
that made me horny. message me for some dirty talk
One of the real problems with the inappropriate material on YouTube is that viewers don't have to search for 'porn' to find it. For example, within the top 50 most-watched 'education' videos of all time is one titled 'Hentai girl gets chained up and…' Hentai is Japanese cartoon porn, and while YouTube doesn't allow Hentai, the 'tease' works the same as for live action porn.
In YouTube's guidelines, it states, 'YouTube staff review flagged videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate our Community Guidelines. When they do, we remove them.' Repeat offenders may have their accounts terminated.
However, to some posters, this isn't a rule, it's a challenge. One, who ran a channel of diaper fetish porn, boasted on the channel page: 'I have multiple accounts on YouTube to minimize the Flaggot effect. Try to find em all, y'know, like Pokemon.GOTTA CATCH EM ALLLLLLL.'
'Flaggots' would be viewers who flag objectionable content, and apparently enough of them found that particular channel that it had disappeared within 24 hours.
Still, renegades are not the source of the majority of objectionable content on YouTube.
And there are plenty of examples of channels and videos that, while not hardcore porn, are certainly lewd enough to sounds alarms for parents.
Take the 118 'Most Subscribed' YouTube channels for the month of May. Within those 5 pages of links, viewers can find 'heysexyhardcore,' whose description read:
I like making videos about naked women and stripping i want to someday be a playboy bunny hopefully.
I am totally straight but me and my gals have fun! …
I wanna give you an erection or make you nipples hard …
My channel is for girls who are into girls - or - guys who are into girls on girls.
Another is 'Divina Diana,' who lists her location as Milano, Italy and her occupation as 'Mistress.' The five videos on her site seem to be about domination and S&M.
One of the most subscribed channels for May 2009 was XxFootFreakxX. Its 149 subscribers and others viewed its videos more than 50,000 that month. What did they watch? Fetish videos of 'Foot Worship,' 'Foot Domination,' 'FOOT LICKING and SNIFFING,' and 'Foot Trampling.'
Within those 'Most Subscribed' were a spate of channels dedicated to home videos of girls dancing suggestively in front of the camera, with a particular focus on barely concealed buttocks thrust at the lens. 'Justme91,' 'Bossybaby7147' and 'TiannaTrillz2009' were typical. Some are just silly. At 'Myhula,' 9,103 people have watched 'me hula dancing in my underwear. i want to tighten up my abs and i just loooove to hula.'
And some are horrifying. 'Xw091,' who's age was listed as 16, features a 45-second home video of a girl's rear end gyrating to a hip hop song who's only lyric seems to be 'Bust that p***y open.'
There are also entire channels dedicated to 'sex education.' One is 'Good VibrationsTV.' Its description reads: 'Want to know more about sex toys? Need sex tips? Curious about what other people are thinking about when it comes to sex?'
Another one is 'SEX ED 102: ALL THE STUFF YOU NEVER LEARNED … BUT SHOULD HAVE.'
'The Planned Parenthood Channel' issuesd this invitation: 'Let's talk about sex! 'Speaking of Sex' is Planned Parenthood's award-winning podcast and videocast that takes a fun, yet informative, look at sexuality and its important role in our life and relationships.' Of course, Planned Parenthood, which has long disparaged abstinence-based sex education and promoted birth control for teens and abortion-on-demand, wasn't the place most parents would want their children learning about sex.
Then there's 'kicesie .' Her channel can be found under 'Gurus.' She's a young woman who claims to be providing 'Advanced Sex Ed for today's young adults (and older).' Some of her videos have been watched millions of times. She discusses various aspects of sex in graphic (though clinical) description, and invited viewers to 'share' their responses. What they shared was obscene and sexually explicit.
2. An Education in Obscenity
YouTube has 'Community Guidelines' banning 'hate speech against 'protected groups.' However, those groups don't include children, parents or people that believe in some standards of decency in public discourse.
Without even getting into 18 content, children can hear and read every imaginable obscenity and sexually explicit language, including descriptions of sex acts. According to the site's search engine, the word 'F***' appears in about 691,000 video titles. Many videos are laced with profanity and lewd, offensive language. Indeed, for some that seems to be the point. There's a video titled simply 'S***, F***, and B****!!!' Another, titled 'S***! F***!, is from a regular poster who compiled all the swears from his previous posts into a single, two-minute video.
If children are old enough to read, extra caution is order, because they don't even have to watch a video to be exposed to objectionable content. Of those 101 most-watched 'porn' videos, 61 are described or are tagged with sexually explicit language, and 54 with common obscenity. The descriptions and tags of many of those videos use the same language they would at the sites they're advertising. They promise 'orgies,' 'gangbangs,' and just about every type of sexual interest and fetish imaginable. A typical one from the 'porn' most viewed list (this video had 7,728,216 views) reads, 'XXX PORN XXX- TEENAGER GETS F****ED AND HAS ORGASM!' Another says 'Asian Vagina Porn.'
YouTube describes itself as a 'Community' that welcomes responses to posted videos. YouTube has no obscenity rules and it shows. The level of discourse is filled with four-letter words and other obscenities.
Even a YouTube video of the theme song and intro sequence to the Nickelodeon cartoon SpongeBob Square Pants isn't immune from porn advertising or obscenity, as this comment shows:
hahocuxaciga  (13 hours ago)
The extremely h0t Mili Jay couch fcked - ADALTXXXTUBE[.]COM
How about Dora the Explorer? Here's a comment:
ryan1981nz (5 months ago)
ur a f****** d***
On a video of the Jonas Brothers, among the comments by excited tween girls is this:
MolotovThug  (38 minutes ago)
they have anal sex at night
… and …
imdragonmyballs  (9 hours ago)
Well it might be one of the slags on here who still think these dumb gay c***s like girls
A Hannah Montanah video provoke this obscene exchange:
AttackMonkey623  (1 week ago)
HAnna Montana suKs GIANT sWeaty b***s!!! 3=======D
smarts070996  (1 week ago)
and so doas ur fav pop star ur famlly
Sandwitchlover665  (1 week ago)
u should suck ur daddy's too
3. Videos Aren't the Whole Picture
Again, you don't have to watch a video to see things that are wildly inappropriate for children. Each video has a 'video capture' - a still thumbnail of its content. These are often just as bad as the videos themselves.
Of those 101 most watched 'porn' videos, 45 feature video captures that are highly suggestive, mostly with women in some form of undress and/or in sexual ecstasy, women kissing each other, men kissing each other or close-ups of body parts.
One video (with more than 9 million views) with the title, 'anal or porn show xxx sex extreme a**.' has a video capture of two women in thongs wrestling in an inflatable pool. Another called 'xxx porn sex hot' shows a woman opening a man's pants as she kneels in front of him.
'Free xxx porn - Asian lesbian webcam' shows a picture of one girl licking the neck of another. 'XXX LESBIAN ASIAN AND BLOND PORN XXX' shows the hands of one girl opening the pants of another. 'Porn Cartoons' has a drawing of an erect penis.
There are also video captures of barely covered breasts and buttocks, up close pictures of tongue-kissing, and a disturbing number of photos of animals mating.
4. 'Gay God' and other Eye-Openers
As if all the porn and obscenity weren't enough, parents concerned about children's exposure to the gay agenda - or just gay content - have another reason to be cautious about YouTube.
A search of 'Gay' turned up 11,900 channel results (the first being something called 'Gay God') and 703,000 total results. 'Lesbian' produced 3,720 and 248,000 hits, respectively. ('Lesbian' was by far the term that led to the most hard-core porn ads.)
'Gay porn' returned 52,700 results, and there were 459 gay porn channels. These results shared all the problems of other porn entries on YouTube - the video captures, the obscenities, the advertising.
Some gay channel titles included: 'The Gay Christian Network,' 'Gay Familie Values,' 'Gay Pageant Videos,' 'HardGayTV,' and 'HOT GAY MEN, STUDS, AND MUSCLED HUNKS - NOTHING BUT.' 'The Ramblings of a Gay Wiccan' had 831 subscribers and over 16,000 channel views.
There was also the channel of a Web site called 'boysbudapest.com' that offered gay 'Hungarian pornstars' as escorts and travel companions. The channel features videos of the men on offer. (It has 363 subscribers and more than 32,000 channel views.)
Flawed Cultural Phenomenon
YouTube turned 4-years-old in February. In its short life the Internet video site has become a cultural phenomenon, and no wonder. It seems like if it was ever captured on film, video or digitally, viewers can find it on YouTube.
According to the site itself, 'People are watching hundreds of millions of videos a day on YouTube and uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily. In fact, every minute, ten hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.'
The company is owned by Google, so that Googling just about anything, returns a YouTube video among the first results.
Who's watching YouTube? The Web site said: 'Our user base is broad in age range, 18-55, evenly divided between males and females, and spanning all geographies. Fifty-one percent of our users go to YouTube weekly or more often, and 52 percent of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues. With such a large and diverse user base, YouTube offers something for everyone.'
That's the problem. 'Everyone' includes pornographers and their customers. 'History shows that pornography and sexual license corrupt every new communications medium,' according to Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action. On You Tube, the porn and license are side-by-side with - and often hard to distinguish from - content for children. Children can easily stumble onto inappropriate material. Older children can easily satisfy curiosities they shouldn't.
YouTube has content guidelines and safety policies, and the company says it tries to police the ever-growing universe of millions of videos. It relies on 'flagging' by users to alert it to obscene content, as well as algorithms that automatically separate some videos into an 18-years and over category, and that 'demote' what the company characterizes as 'sexually suggestive content and profanity,' from popular and 'featured' lists.
These measures are wholly inadequate, and do little to ensure that children are shielded from harmful content. In short, children should not be given unsupervised access to YouTube. A parent's surfing habits can also be a problem when parents leave computers on and stay logged in.
What's to be Done?
Pro-family groups have said Google/YouTube needs to step up and address these issues. In December of 2008, YouTube announced that it was 'tightening the standard for what is considered 'sexually suggestive,'' and instituting its 18 policy. It was also 'demoting' such suggestive content and profanity from its most popular areas.
Six months later, the Culture and Media Institute's research found that those measures have failed. Google/YouTube must use its formidable ingenuity to devise a better wall than the 18 requirement, and find a way to corral all obscene content within that wall. YouTube must do more than 'demote' sexual content and profanity. And it must find a way to police videos like 'Aladdin Porn,' which are particularly troubling in their natural attraction for and hidden threat to children.
And the company should be both proactive in its actions and far more responsive. Repeated attempts to get YouTube and Google officials to comment on CMI's findings failed. Instead, researchers were referred to YouTube's users' guidelines. If the company won't respond to a potentially damaging Special Report, what hope do concerned parents have?
Given its unresponsiveness, it is easy to conclude that YouTube is unapologetic about the kind of community it has become. Its guidelines are little more than lip service to standards of decency, and its safeguards are wholly inadequate to protect children.
'When 'mainline' content providers are unafraid to display hard-core porn it tells you how low into the cultural sewage we've sunk, and how inadequately the law is being enforced,' said Jan LaRue, former chief counsel at Concerned Women for America .
It is essential that children be protected from the sleaze that populates YouTube. Just as a parent wouldn't let a young child children wander unchaperoned through the seedier districts of actual cities, they should make sure they give a wide berth to this 'community.'
Constant monitoring isn't always possible, of course. So Focus on the Family's Weiss had another suggestion for good parents:
As with other threats to children, parents must equip their children to navigate online dangers by buildings walls and building character. Parents will naturally protect their children when possible, but must also teach them media discernment guided by a spiritual hunger for the good, the true and the beautiful. The most effective counter to the distortions of the culture is to entice our children with the truth and beauty of human sexuality lived according to God's plan.'
Parents must also bear in mind that their home isn't the only place their children can encounter YouTube. Computers have become commonplace in classrooms and school and public libraries. Other parents also might have a more relaxed view of what their children can access.
The Culture and Media Institute recommended ways for both YouTube and parents to better cope with offensive online video.
What Parents Can Do:
- Adults should never let children search or surf YouTube without constant supervision.
- Parents should remember that even seemingly harmless videos and search terms can have disturbing results for children - including obscenity and links to outside porn sites.
- Parents must be aware that YouTube is more than just videos; children can be exposed to objectionable content in comments and ads that appear on the site.
- Parents with YouTube accounts should not divulge their username/password to their children, and must be careful to log out of the account when they're done using it.
- Parents must find out what access restrictions and safety precautions their children's schools have in place, and let teachers and staff know of their concerns.
What YouTube Can Do:
- The company must further tighten its obscenity/sexually suggestive content standards and cooperate with pro-family groups to accomplish this.
- The company should take the advice The Parents Television Council gave it in December 2008, recommending 'formulating and adopting a thorough, accurate and transparent content rating system which would allow a parent to block a child from viewing age-inappropriate material.'
- YouTube must remove obscene user comments from its videos, and bar repeat offenders from posting comments.
- The company must construct a far more formidable barrier than its current 18 category, and then make sure all objectionable content is behind it.
- YouTube must get out front and be more willing to talk to critics in the media and in family organizations to address concerns.