YouTube Has Banned Dangerous Pranks and Challenges

2 minute read

This week, YouTube decided to ban “dangerous challenges and pranks” from the platform, updating their community guidelines and enforcement of rules with a promise they will remove content that qualifies as encouraging “violence or dangerous activities.”

The ban tightening follows headlines about Netflix’s Bird Box just keeps on growing, after a viral challenge related to the hit Sandra-Bullock-starring thriller made waves online. While they don’t mention the movie directly, the timing is notable.

“YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, but we need to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous,” they explained in the revised guidelines posted online. “We’ve updated our external guidelines to make it clear that we prohibit challenges presenting a risk of serious danger or death, and pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger, or cause children to experience severe emotional distress.”

One of many viral challenges that can become dangerous, for the “Bird Box challenge,” people move around blindfolded, as Bullock does in the popular film. (In the movie, she is battling an invisible adversary in a post-apocalyptic landscape, which requires her to keep herself blindfolded to avoid a terrible fate.) At least one car accident has been potentially linked to the challenge.

Viral challenges are popular on YouTube and social media, from the ice bucket challenge — which helped raise money for research on ALS — to the “mannequin” and “In My Feelings” challenges, which inspired people to upload creative dance videos. But it looks like people have finally taken things too far with the Bird Box challenge, and YouTube is making an official step towards encouraging a safer environment.

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Write to Raisa Bruner at