YouTube has shut down Toy Freaks, a channel that featured videos of a single dad and his two daughters in odd and upsetting situations.
The deletion of Toy Freaks — which had 8.53 million subscribers and was among the top 100 most-viewed channels on YouTube — comes as the Google-owned video platform has said it’s taking a tougher stance to filter out content inappropriate for kids.
“We’ve terminated the Toy Freaks channel for violation of our policies,” a YouTube rep said in a statement. “We will be conducting a broader review of associated content in conjunction with expert trusted flaggers.”
In a statement provided to Variety, Toy Freaks channel operator Greg Chism said YouTube informed him “of concerns that my videos were attracting audience members who do not have childrens’ best interests in their hearts.”
Chism continued, “Many YouTube community members expressed similar concerns, and their willingness to reach out to protect my children and all children from exploitation reinforces my faith in the YouTube community. Victoria, Annabelle and I want to thank our supporters as my girls have had the opportunity to develop their creativity and self-confidence over the past few years. Their future is bright. While it is disturbing to me that anyone would find inappropriate pleasure in our video skits, I deeply appreciate YouTube’s concerns for my family and I could not be happier with having had this remarkable experience.”
The deletion of the Toy Freaks channel was spotted earlier by TubeFilter. The move comes after YouTube last week disclosed a new policy to more proactively restrict content deemed unsuitable for children from being accessible in the YouTube Kids app. That followed reports of videos appearing in YouTube Kids that are apparently intended for young children — some featuring popular children’s characters — but which include violent and disturbing imagery.
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Toy Freaks was recently ranked the 68th most-viewed channels on YouTube, according to Social Blade. The channel featured benign content like nursery rhymes. However, it specialized “in gross-out situations, as well as activities which many, many viewers feel border on abuse and exploitation, if not cross the line entirely, including videos of the children vomiting and in pain,” according to blogger James Bridle, who wrote about the trend of disturbing kid-targeted YouTube content in a post on Nov. 6.
Toy Freaks’ highest-viewed video was “Bad Baby Real Food Fight Victoria vs Annabelle & Freak Daddy Toy Freaks Family,” which had 622 million cumulative views.
“We take child safety extremely seriously and have clear policies against child endangerment,” the YouTube rep said. “We recently tightened the enforcement of these policies to tackle content featuring minors where we receive signals that cause concern. It’s not always clear that the uploader of the content intends to break our rules, but we may still remove their videos to help protect viewers, uploaders and children.”
Toy Freaks’ Chism also had a second channel, Freak Family Vlogs, which had 4.7 million subscribers; as of Friday, all the videos on that channel have been removed except for one showing multicolored lobsters.