YouTube tweaks kids videos' algorithm to favor 'quality' content

The new recommendations caused views to surge for some channels and plummet for others, a report said.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
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YouTube changed its recommendation algorithm for kid-oriented videos to prioritize "quality" content, the company said Wednesday. The tweak last month diverted traffic away from some channels and flooded others, according to a Bloomberg article that first reported the news. 

YouTube confirmed the change in a statement.

"We make hundreds of changes every year to make it easier for people to find what they want to watch on YouTube," the company said. "We recently made one such change that improves the ability for users to find quality family content." 

YouTube, Google's massive video service reaching 2 billion monthly users, is among a group of tech giants plagued by backlash to objectionable content on their platforms in recent years. But YouTube's kids-heavy audience -- children's content draws some the biggest views on the service -- heightens the company's challenge of keeping inappropriate content or exploitative practices away from youngsters. YouTube has been criticized for disturbing videos on its YouTube Kids app, for channels that abuse children for ad dollars and for not protecting children from a "softcore pedophilia ring."

YouTube's practices around children triggered a Federal Trade Commission investigation and fine this year, according to reports. 

Watch this: YouTube’s product chief helps safeguard and expand the platform