YouTube, Facebook deleting stupid Tide Pod Challenge videos

Extremist content. Terrorist content. Then there’s just plain stupid content.

YouTube and Facebook, which this week testified on Capitol Hill about steps they’re taking to detect and remove extremist content on their sites, are also removing videos related to the viral Tide Pod Challenge.

There are enough thrill-seeking teens biting into the laundry detergent pods and recording themselves for posterity that the American Association of Poison Control Centers issued a warning Tuesday.

“A recent trend among teenagers ingesting the packets — and uploading videos to various internet platforms including video-sharing websites, social media, and vlogging platforms— has caused significant concern among poison control centers,” the agency said in a news release.

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Poison centers have already handled 39 cases of intentional exposure — 91 percent of them involved ingestion — among 13-to-19-year-olds this year, the agency said. By comparison, that was the same number of cases in 2016, while centers saw 53 such cases all of last year.

“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm,” the company said in a statement Thursday. A spokeswoman did not provide the number of videos the company has removed.

A search on YouTube on Thursday yielded videos that show people pretending they’re about to bite into a detergent pod, then proceeding to slam the challenge instead.

Facebook also cited its community guidelines and said it has removed such videos from its platform and Instagram, the photo- and video-sharing site it owns.

“We have and will continue to remove any of this material as soon as we’re aware of it,” a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

Procter & Gamble, maker of Tide, has enlisted an NFL player to try to get through to those who might think the pods look good enough to eat.

“What the heck is going on, people?” New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski says in a video the company released over the weekend. “Use Tide Pods for washing, not eating.”

The origin of eating soap on purpose to get online kudos is unclear. One satirical video about eating the pods that was published last year by College Humor is now accompanied by a warning: “In light of recent news reports of idiot teens actually eating laundry pods, we want to make very clear that our position is the title of this video: DON’T EAT THE LAUNDRY PODS, you moron.”

This post has been updated with comments from Google and Facebook.


Photo: A warning label is attached to a package of Tide laundry detergent packets in Houston on May 24, 2012. (Pat Sullivan/AP)


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