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YouTube has made it easier to access 'quality' children's content. Here's what you need to know

In this Tuesday, April 3, 2018, file, a YouTube sign is shown across the street from the company's offices in San Bruno, Calif.
In this Tuesday, April 3, 2018, file, a YouTube sign is shown across the street from the company's offices in San Bruno, Calif.
Jeff Chiu, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — YouTube recently updated its algorithm last month, reportedly making it easier to access “quality” family content on the video platform.

Bloomberg reports that the software update boosts the visibility of video producers who make high-quality children’s videos. The algorithm change is YouTube’s latest move following waves of criticism that YouTube has allowed children to view “inappropriate and disturbing” video content.

Melissa Hunter, the founder of Family Video Network, told Bloomberg the change was “very noticeable.” YouTube’s algorithms determine how user searches lead to specific videos, which can make some creators on the platform more visible than others.

YouTube spokeswoman Ivy Choi also said via a statement that changes are made often to improve viewers’ experiences on the platform.

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

While the algorithm update stands to benefit YouTube’s users, some creators behind children’s videos say the changes have led to a decrease in viewership, according to Engadget. Meanwhile, large companies like PBS Kids have since seen a boost in video views.

YouTube’s algorithm changes follow accusations that the platform has allowed disturbing, violent content to be hidden in otherwise safe-looking videos targeted at children. BBC reports that dark, disturbing videos of familiar cartoon characters — like Peppa Pig — surfaced in kids’ videos in 2017.

Other videos, according to CNN, featuring instructions on how to commit suicide were also targeted at children earlier this year. YouTube said at the time that videos flagged for inappropriate content are manually reviewed before being removed from the platform.

I also reported for Deseret News that new legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate would ban YouTube’s autoplay feature. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, claims the feature — along with infinitely scrolling social media feeds — is addicting and makes it difficult for users to look away. Others have said the feature can expose children to “predatory” videos.