YouTube inexplicably eliminates comments on channel for kids with disabilities
‘s fight to clean up its platform has found a new victimSpecial Books by Special Kids.
A video made by the couple behind SBSK shot to the top of Reddit last night. In it, Chris Ulmer and his partner Alyssa lament the decision by YouTube to disable all comments for their channel.
The channel aims to normalize the conversation around disabilities. The duo described as a channel that “seeks to normalize the diversity of the human condition under the pillars of honesty, respect, mindfulness, positivity and collaboration,” SBSK aims to celebrate people in whatever package they came in.
The past few months have seen YouTube on a tireless campaign to better moderate content created for or featuring young children. Following several widespread scandals, YouTube is cracking down on any videos they see as endangering kids. Over the past few months, we’ve seen videos for children edited to include promotion of self-harm, the reported appearance of the on YouTube Kids, and in specific cases the discovery of predatory behaviorin the comment sections of videos.
These issues are important. In an attempt to curtail predatory comments, YouTube has systematically disabled comment sections for entire channels. For some, like the channel Girls Couture Club, the move came in response to multiple occurrences of predatory behavior. For SBSK, it seemed to come completely out of the blue.
In the comment section on Reddit, Ulmer gave some background on the channel. “SBSK started while I was a teacher to children with mild to moderate disabilities,” he said. “In my 3rd year in the classroom, the vlog started with the collaboration of my students, their parents and our school. The idea was to allow our students to advocate within our community. It was a major success. Well….until now.”
YouTube disabled the comment section of the channel Special Books by Special Kids under the guise of thwarting predatory behavior, despite the fact that this channels sole purpose is to give kids and adults with disabilities a platform for their voice to be heard. from videos
In the video uploaded Wednesday evening, Chris and Alyssa break down why comments are so important to their channel. “There is so much lost when you look at comments not being there,” Alyssa said. “There are videos of people who’ve passed away,” Chris added. “And their parents read the comments as a way of keeping their kid alive. And now they’re gone.”
A 2017 BBC profile of Chris and the people he interviews made particular note of comments. One post, about a boy who survived a brain bleed and stroke, had upwards of 8,000 comments, according to the BBC story. It shows the impact that SBSK videos can have on a community looking for support and love.
In the video, Chris and Alyssa call the move by YouTube “discriminatory,” in part due to what seems to them like specific targeting of smaller channels. “I say that word ‘discriminatory’ knowing the implications of it,” Chris said. “And I mean it 100 percent. The reason this is discriminatory is because they’re doing it under the guise… of protecting children from predators. But, they’re only selecting certain channels.”
The two note that several larger kids channels, those with “corporate or advertisersbehind them” have not been affected. “They’re not being impacted at all, even if their content is more subjective to the type of predation that they’re trying to combat,” Alyssa said.
If the comment section for the post on Reddita site with a reputation far from being wholesomeare any indication, SBSK is golden. Love, compassion,and support flowed through nearly every comment.
“Chris, I’ve watched you for years now,”foxbluesockswrote. “My daughter (8) was diagnosed with Autism at a very early age. When we found out, I wasn’t in the best headspace but I found your channel and the positivity you radiate changed my entire way of thinking about not only my daughter but with all people who face challenges every day and to see thepersonfor who they really are.”
If these comments are any reflection of the community Chris and Alyssa built, needs to rethink its actions. We need more positivity on the internet, and stifling it in the rare moments it crops up would be a terrible act indeed.
The Daily Dot reached out to YouTube and SBSK for comment, but has not heard back.