YouTube yanks videos showing dangerous 'Tide Pod challenge'

Video site is working to combat what health officials describe as a spike in teens purposely ingesting laundry detergent packets.

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2 min read

Teens are eating Tide Pods on purpose and filming themselves doing it.

Procter & Gamble

YouTube is taking steps to shut down a viral video trend in which people post recordings of themselves purposely ingesting laundry detergent.

The so-called Tide Pod challenge, which involves people eating the brightly colored laundry detergent packs known as pods, reportedly began last year as a joke on the internet. But like viral video predecessors the "cinnamon challenge" and the "bath-salt challenge," this fad represents a dangerous health threat, officials warn.

"YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibit content that's intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm," the video site said in a statement. "We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies."

The videos are removed from YouTube after being flagged by users, and the hosting channel receives a strike that could result in the channel being closed, YouTube said. Videos discussing the fad in an educational or news setting are still allowed.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning in 2013 that liquid laundry packets or capsules contain "highly concentrated, toxic detergent" that can result in injury, including burns, loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting and difficulty breathing.  

Nearly 220 teens were reportedly exposed to the capsules in 2017, and about 25 percent of those cases were intentional, according to data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers cited by The Washington Post. Just two weeks into 2018, there have been 37 reported cases among teenagers, half of which were intentional, according to the data.

In an attempt to derail the fad, Tide maker Procter & Gamble released a public service announcement on social media that features New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski discouraging misuse of the laundry detergent packets.

"What should Tide PODs be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else," the company said on tweet. "Eating a Tide POD is a BAD IDEA, and we asked our friend @robgronkowski to help explain."

Anyone concerned about the dangers of laundry pods can get more information from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. If you need immediate help, call 1-800-222-1222, or text "poison" to 797979 to save the number in your phone.

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