June 19, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Video sites grapple with specter of smut

The text accompanying the video says a man has stolen a pair of women's underwear.

The clip, first posted on video-sharing site YouTube on May 31 and viewed more than 1,500 times over six days, shows a man standing in what appears to be a dimly lit public bathroom, wearing what indeed appears to be panties. As the video plays, the man, shown from the stomach down and thus faceless, begins to fondle himself.

YouTube is not the only well-known video site where such graphic content appears. Many of the companies that let users display homemade videos on the Web are having difficulty keeping their pages smut-free. A weeklong review of some of the top user-generated video sites by CNET News.com unearthed scenes of beheadings, masturbation, bloody car accidents, bondage and sadomasochism. It's important to note that no child pornography was discovered.

Online video-sharing sites such as YouTube, Yahoo Video and Google Video are competing in one of the fastest-growing entertainment segments on the Web. They may also be victims of their own popularity. The vast majority of videos available on these sites depicts budding musicians, comedians, filmmakers or just people vying for attention in innocuous--if sometimes oddball--ways.

But industry insiders say that as the sites collect greater amounts of video, tracking and purging sexually explicit and graphically violent content will become increasingly difficult. Industry insiders say that while prescreening millions of homemade videos is likely to be costly and problematic, failing to police the sites could scare off advertisers and lead to clashes with family advocates and lawmakers.

Materials inappropriate for children are too easy for kids to get their hands on at Google Video, according to the New York State Consumer Protection Board, which issued a warning to parents on June 12. The board has a broad mandate to inform and educate consumers but has no regulatory powers. Nontheless, it will continue to publicize the issue in an effort to force Google Video and other video-sharing sites to do more to protect children, said Jon Sorensen, the board's spokesman.

"Very few of the other (video-sharing) sites feature this kind of content on their front page," Sorensen said Thursday. "It's disappointing because we contacted (Google Video) two weeks ago, and they said they were trying to make changes. Still, this stuff continues" to show up.

In an e-mail to CNET News.com, Google said it removes such content when made aware of it.

Unlike New York's consumer protection board, the federal government does have the power to force change. A bill proposed this month in the U.S. Senate would require any Web site that offers sexually explicit content to post warning labels on each offending page or face imprisonment.

The authors of the bill, called the Stop Adults' Facilitation of the Exploitation of Youth Act, or the Safety Act, want to decrease the chances that children can inadvertently be exposed to pornography by Web sites that mislabel their materials either deliberately or through negligence.

And video-sharing sites are likely to face enormous pressure to clean up their sites from big advertisers. Some companies are eager to partner with the sector's powerhouses but will steer clear if it means that one of their ads sits next to unsuitable content, said Greg Sterling, who operates Web research company Sterling Market Intelligence.

"There's absolutely a big opportunity for these sites to sell advertising, provided that they guarantee (what kind of) content...goes next to the ads," Sterling said. "Advertisers are going to want control of where their brands are placed."

That's not going to be easy for some sites. Take, for example, YouTube, the largest video-sharing site, with nearly 13 million users per month. Guaranteeing the quality of content on the site would mean hiring employees to eyeball each frame of the more than 50,000 videos that get posted daily. YouTube allows videos to last up to 10 minutes, but most are much shorter. If the average video is 3 minutes, then YouTube would be monitoring 2,500 hours worth of video a day.

"It's going to be hard to guarantee absolute protection," said Mike McGuire, a research analyst at Gartner. "You have to wonder if (these sites) foresaw the kind of expense and effort that they are going to have to put into monitoring their sites."

See more CNET content tagged:
Google Video, advertiser, children, YouTube, Google Inc.

30 comments

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What the ???
"CNET News.com unearthed scenes of beheadings, masturbation, bloody car accidents, bondage and sadomasochism. It's important to note that no child pornography was discovered."


Excellent! At least there was no child pornography!

What the hell is happening to the USA. Kids watching beheadings, masturbation, bloody car accidents, bondage and sadomasochism is all fine - as long as they don't see child pornography.

The same mentality is behind the latest video game legislation. Kids can rip out each other's virtual guts all day long, as long as they don't see bare breasts!
Posted by just_some_guy (231 comments )
Reply Link Flag
smut
I totally agree. The kind of violence that is being perpetuated against the children and the people over all is really terrible! By showing children these kinds of horrible imagaes you desensitize them.
The issue few people are raising is this, "How are they getting all of those millions women they are using on the beastiality network?"

dianne
Posted by emeraldgate (53 comments )
Link Flag
The article didn't say kids were watching those things...
but the author does like to use "sensational journalism" to try to make you think that way. I'm thouroughly disappointed by the level of "journalism" is this article, and is the first time I even read a piece by Greg whatever his last name is. Not the usual level of good reporting by Cnet.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Link Flag
'cause its illegal
I think the "no child pornography" line was there because possession of child porn is illegal in the US. While the rest may be morally reprehensible, distrubing, and can hardly be held as "entertainment", its not illegal to own.

From the ECPAT website:
"Title 18 United States Code, Sections 2251, 2252, and 2252A, criminalize acts of knowingly producing (or aiding in the production of), advertising or soliciting for, possessing, selling, receiving, reproducing, exchanging, sending or transmitting (by mail or via computer) child pornography."
Posted by ScottMo (71 comments )
Link Flag
What the ???
"CNET News.com unearthed scenes of beheadings, masturbation, bloody car accidents, bondage and sadomasochism. It's important to note that no child pornography was discovered."


Excellent! At least there was no child pornography!

What the hell is happening to the USA. Kids watching beheadings, masturbation, bloody car accidents, bondage and sadomasochism is all fine - as long as they don't see child pornography.

The same mentality is behind the latest video game legislation. Kids can rip out each other's virtual guts all day long, as long as they don't see bare breasts!
Posted by just_some_guy (231 comments )
Reply Link Flag
smut
I totally agree. The kind of violence that is being perpetuated against the children and the people over all is really terrible! By showing children these kinds of horrible imagaes you desensitize them.
The issue few people are raising is this, "How are they getting all of those millions women they are using on the beastiality network?"

dianne
Posted by emeraldgate (53 comments )
Link Flag
The article didn't say kids were watching those things...
but the author does like to use "sensational journalism" to try to make you think that way. I'm thouroughly disappointed by the level of "journalism" is this article, and is the first time I even read a piece by Greg whatever his last name is. Not the usual level of good reporting by Cnet.
Posted by MisterFlibble (207 comments )
Link Flag
'cause its illegal
I think the "no child pornography" line was there because possession of child porn is illegal in the US. While the rest may be morally reprehensible, distrubing, and can hardly be held as "entertainment", its not illegal to own.

From the ECPAT website:
"Title 18 United States Code, Sections 2251, 2252, and 2252A, criminalize acts of knowingly producing (or aiding in the production of), advertising or soliciting for, possessing, selling, receiving, reproducing, exchanging, sending or transmitting (by mail or via computer) child pornography."
Posted by ScottMo (71 comments )
Link Flag
The word is "minuscule"
not "miniscule"
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The word is "minuscule"
not "miniscule"
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Solution
Google and company can harness the power of the internet to give the uploaded videos proper content flags. There is simply no other way to examine 2,500 hours of vide each day. They could set up a system where those who want to earn free services or whatever could rate/flag a certain number of videos per week. By default the search engine would not return videos that were not rated or flagged by at least 2 reviewers. Of course the reviewers would have to agree to watch the smut and/or violence. And the customer should always have the option to turn the filters off.
Posted by JediJ0e (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
BREAT idea!!!
At least there is ONE other in here who possesses an IQ higher than their shoe size! :)
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Link Flag
Solution
Google and company can harness the power of the internet to give the uploaded videos proper content flags. There is simply no other way to examine 2,500 hours of vide each day. They could set up a system where those who want to earn free services or whatever could rate/flag a certain number of videos per week. By default the search engine would not return videos that were not rated or flagged by at least 2 reviewers. Of course the reviewers would have to agree to watch the smut and/or violence. And the customer should always have the option to turn the filters off.
Posted by JediJ0e (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
BREAT idea!!!
At least there is ONE other in here who possesses an IQ higher than their shoe size! :)
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Link Flag
BEFORE you post READ the WHOLE article???
To all you people who live in a glass bell with a vacuum in it:

The REAL world is NOT as sugar coated as all of you save the children types wants it to be. THAT is REALITY!!!!

My suggestion, to you all is to learn to police your children YOURSELVES by using filtering programs on your computers. You know enough about computers to get here. Browse the Downloads Section and install filtering programs on your computers and USE them. Monitor your children WHILE they are ONLINE!!!!!!! See for yourself where they go online and WHAT the DO! AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: teach them the difference between 'make believe' and REALITY __AND__ HOW to HANDLE reality when they happen across it in their WHOLE lives, not just online!!! Otherwise they will be ill equipped to handle the REAL world in a proper and HEALTHY way once they are adults.
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Reply Link Flag
BEFORE you post READ the WHOLE article???
To all you people who live in a glass bell with a vacuum in it:

The REAL world is NOT as sugar coated as all of you save the children types wants it to be. THAT is REALITY!!!!

My suggestion, to you all is to learn to police your children YOURSELVES by using filtering programs on your computers. You know enough about computers to get here. Browse the Downloads Section and install filtering programs on your computers and USE them. Monitor your children WHILE they are ONLINE!!!!!!! See for yourself where they go online and WHAT the DO! AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: teach them the difference between 'make believe' and REALITY __AND__ HOW to HANDLE reality when they happen across it in their WHOLE lives, not just online!!! Otherwise they will be ill equipped to handle the REAL world in a proper and HEALTHY way once they are adults.
Posted by btl-jooz (81 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Smut keeps technology and the internet alive
Smut led the way to home videos and now downloading videos. Keep the smut to ensure the growth of technology advances. Have a need to eliminate something? Then go after politicians and religious nutjobs.
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
religious nut jobs?
nothing like anti christian bigotry...poor liberals even one less porn sight out of the zillions would affend you or any where else that matters
Posted by newcreation (118 comments )
Link Flag
Smut keeps technology and the internet alive
Smut led the way to home videos and now downloading videos. Keep the smut to ensure the growth of technology advances. Have a need to eliminate something? Then go after politicians and religious nutjobs.
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
religious nut jobs?
nothing like anti christian bigotry...poor liberals even one less porn sight out of the zillions would affend you or any where else that matters
Posted by newcreation (118 comments )
Link Flag
What to do
In my experience, there are always ways to report videos that are offensive. Sometimes it's a button that says "report this content/post as offensive". I think most people who see this sort of thing will report it. They don't need staff to prescreen 2500 hours of video per day, the viewers (millions of us) will do that for them. Perhaps they need a section that is FOR kids. Maybe they need a rating system. Buttons for "unacceptable" content and "PG" content and "safe for kids" content. Then they could screen all those ones that have been reported and put them in their proper places. Putting unacceptable in the trash and PG behind a net and safe for kids out into the open. An SSL based voting system would virtually ensure that offensive content doesn't accidentally (or as a prank) get put where kids can easily access it. Meaning that somebody couldn't repeatedly vote for content improperly so as to make it automatically appear safe for kids. The majority of people are pretty honest anyways. Content that doesn't get enough votes remains unrated and stays behind the safety nets. Just a thought.
Posted by MrMailing (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What to do
In my experience, there are always ways to report videos that are offensive. Sometimes it's a button that says "report this content/post as offensive". I think most people who see this sort of thing will report it. They don't need staff to prescreen 2500 hours of video per day, the viewers (millions of us) will do that for them. Perhaps they need a section that is FOR kids. Maybe they need a rating system. Buttons for "unacceptable" content and "PG" content and "safe for kids" content. Then they could screen all those ones that have been reported and put them in their proper places. Putting unacceptable in the trash and PG behind a net and safe for kids out into the open. An SSL based voting system would virtually ensure that offensive content doesn't accidentally (or as a prank) get put where kids can easily access it. Meaning that somebody couldn't repeatedly vote for content improperly so as to make it automatically appear safe for kids. The majority of people are pretty honest anyways. Content that doesn't get enough votes remains unrated and stays behind the safety nets. Just a thought.
Posted by MrMailing (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
THINK OF YOU TUBE AS THE CIA,IF THEY ARE STUPID ENOUGH TO SMUT THEMSELVES IN PLAIN VIEW,THEY CAN BE THE TARGET OF THE RIGHTIOUS ANGERT THAT WILL GET THEM EVENTUALLY,DEATH TO CHILD MOLESTERS!!AND RAPIST!!
Posted by HABAKKUK = (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
THINK OF YOU TUBE AS THE CIA,IF THEY ARE STUPID ENOUGH TO SMUT THEMSELVES IN PLAIN VIEW,THEY CAN BE THE TARGET OF THE RIGHTIOUS ANGERT THAT WILL GET THEM EVENTUALLY,DEATH TO CHILD MOLESTERS!!AND RAPIST!!
Posted by HABAKKUK = (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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