YouTube bans dangerous pranks after Bird Box, Tide Pod challenges

By Aimee Picchi

/ MoneyWatch

Bird Box challenge has people blindfolding themselves

YouTube is banning content that promotes dangerous pranks or challenges, following a blindfold challenge inspired by hit Netflix movie "Bird Box."

The Google-owned company previously had a policy barring harmful or dangerous content, but updated its policies to explicitly prohibit videos that encourage people to engage in risky challenges or pranks. The move comes after a series of popular videos spurred copycats in which people were injured.

"Bird Box" stars Sandra Bullock as a mother fleeing from a sinister force that turns anyone who sees it suicidal, prompting her and her children to wear blindfolds to make their escape. That sparked the "Bird Box" challenge, where people wrap blindfolds around their eyes and walk around or even attempt driving. In one case, a woman nearly burned herself on a heater, and another boy repeatedly crashed into furniture with his tricycle. One toddler slammed into a wall.

"We've updated our external guidelines to make it clear that challenges like the Tide pod challenge or the Fire challenge, that can cause death and/or have caused death in some instances, have no place on YouTube," the company said in a blog post.

YouTube pulls videos of dangerous "Tide Pod challenge"

The "Bird Box" challenge isn't the first to spark controversy. The Tide Pod challenge last year sparked a government watchdog to express concern over the prank, which involves teenagers putting Tide detergent pods in their mouths. The social media fad led to injuries, including chemical burns in teens' mouths.

YouTube stressed that it isn't banning funny pranks or challenges, like Jimmy Kimmel's "terrible Christmas present" challenge.

"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," the company said.

First published on January 16, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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