WCBS-New York and others report today that video site, YouTube, will no longer host videos that depict dangerous stunts. The move is a surprising one as the website is known for providing entertainment to millions of viewers who turn to it to see fads and stunts in action. Some users of the site go there to watch people do “stupid” things. There are a host of videos dedicated to falls, ice bucket challenges, and other feats that put people’s physical bodies in peril. With those stunts and challenges forbidden, will YouTube have changed the culture, or will another website simply take its place?
YouTube and its place in the culture
Like a gift from cyberspace, YouTube came into the world on Feb. 14, 2005. The site takes advantage of users continued familiarity with video culture- – from music videos to video games, and the countless random videos people take on phones and tables, the bite-sized medium allows anyone from children to adults, novices to professionals, to present information about any number of topics. From music to obscure communities, YouTube has information on just about anything a person can think of. That it is the go-to site for videos to go viral is no surprise.
YouTube has changed with its users’ tastes. A few years ago, the site provided a for-pay option that allows users to pay a minimal fee per month to allow the site to play in the background. This feature, should users choose it, makes it possible for users who want to hear music or documentaries while they use other features on their phones and tablets. In that way, YouTube, a website, would function more like a music streaming application. It is one option for those who want to make their YouTube choices portable.
But YouTube is more than music and deadly challenges. Makeup tutorials are also immensely popular and often go viral. YouTube is a significant part of the culture, even when it shows those things that some people consider insignificant.
YouTube and the new policy
The new policy technically goes in effect now. However, users have two months to remove videos on their own or the site’s administrators will remove them.
That YouTube has to go this far is particularly telling. But the allure of going viral is too much for some people. To the casual observer, there seems to be only a few challenges. But, there are some challenges that are dangerous, but are discussed less frequently. The fire challenge, for one, looks particularly frightening. The fire challenge involves pouring flammable liquid on a part of the body, setting it on fire, and recording the whole process, including how long the fire burns on the body part. Between 2014 and 2018, several teens (as young as 12) to be seriously injured. That is just one challenge. Now that YouTube is banning such videos, maybe some of these fads will fade away. An essential part of the various challenges is being recorded. Without a built-in audience, it is likely that people will be less interested in performing some challenges.
YouTube’s stance is impressive, if not too late. The concern is that another website will be developed with the sole intention of hosting videos that feature challenges. However, the idea of a site dedicated to challenges brings with it legal concerns. YouTube’s ban might be the end of viral challenges. It will be interesting to see what takes the place of the stunts.