Google mistakenly bans Youtubers playing Pokemon Go for non-existent child abuse videos

Pikachu Outbreak Festival
Pokemon Go had 147m monthly users in May 2018 (Source: Getty)

Google removed the accounts of several prominent YouTubers yesterday afternoon, mistakenly believing they broke its guidelines on posting child abuse videos.

Youtubers Mystic7, Trainer Tips and Marksman, who have more than 3.5m subscribers between them, had their accounts banned yesterday evening after posting videos of themselves playing Pokemon Go, a popular online video game.

They were told that their videos had broken Youtube’s guidelines by uploading “any type of activity that sexualises minors”.

Users took to social media to complain about the removal of their accounts and the total lack of communication from Youtube. Many questioned how the company could manage to confuse footage from a video game with illegal content.

The confusion seems to stem from the acronym “CP”, which refers to “combat points”, in Pokemon Go and was used in the titles of several users videos. But the acroynm can also stand for “child pornography”.

Youtube said that when the videos were checked by another reviewer, the mistake was found and the videos were reinstated.

Several of the users whose accounts were removed have accused Youtube of using algorithms to determine sensitive content instead of actual humans. User Trainer Tips said without access to his account, Google had “destroyed [his] livelihood.”

According to Youtube, it has multiple escalation paths for reviewers to raise issues with any decisions, and said it gives creators the right to appeal if they believe a video has been mistakenly removed, for a different reviewer to re-review.