YouTube Is Banning Challenges and Pranks That Could Lead to Harm

The fire challenge. The deodorant challenge. The mannequin challenge. The Tide Pod challenge. Social media is awash with viral content inciting bizarre activity. But when it comes to those that provoke dangerous stunts, YouTube is drawing the line.

Starting Wednesday, the video sharing site is banning videos that provoke harmful stunts or could lead to serious injuries.

“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,” YouTube said in a statement. “We’ve updated our external guidelines to make it clear that we prohibit challenges presenting a risk of serious danger or death.”

YouTube says it will also ban “pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger, or cause children to experience severe emotional distress.”

The new policies follow reports of injury sustained during some of these challenges, like the “Bird Box challenge,” BBC reports. Inspired by the popular Netflix horror movie, users carried out daily activities while blindfolded. A 17-year-old girl is believed to have died in a car accident while participating in the challenge, police say.

Following the Tide Pod challenge, a social media phenomenon where teenagers were eating laundry detergent pods, Tide’s parent company enlisted Patriots football star Rob Gronkowski to lead a campaign online telling kids to stop eating them.

YouTube previously also pledged to remove videos of graphic bestiality. According to a Buzzfeed report, such content was still appearing online after the pledge.

Write to Casey Quackenbush at

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