YouTube Bans Dangerous Prank After Rash of 'Bird Box,' Tide Pod Challenge Stunts

YouTube has had to institute a new policy against dangerous challenges following viral sensations like the "Tide Pod" and "Bird Box challenges."

YouTube is a blank slate for users, and it can serve as the equivalent of a virtual college lecture hall or a schoolyard playground, depending on who is using it. Over the years, the site has featured many dangerous online pranks and stunts, such as the "cinnamon challenge," the "gallon challenge" or the "banana Sprite challenge," to name a few. As newer pranks become more and more dangerous, YouTube has been forced to crack down, according to a report by CBS News.

YouTube has banned any content that promotes dangerous challenges or pranks. This is added to the company's existing rule against harmful or dangerous content, putting the emphasis on videos that might encourage viewers to do something dangerous themselves. In a blog post explaining the new policy, YouTube cited the "Tide Pod challenge" and the "fire challenge," though the latest sensation seems to be a challenge based on Netflix's new film Bird Box.

The "Bird Box challenge" involves wearing a blindfold while trying to go about day-to-day life, as Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and the other characters in the movie do. The results have ranged from hilarious to harrowing, with some fans coming dangerously close to serious harm. People have walked into walls, furniture and even cars, among other obstacles.

"We've updated our external guidelines to make it clear that challenges like the Tide pod challenge or the fire challenge, that can cause death and/or have caused death in some instances, have no place on YouTube," read the post from YouTube.

"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," it added.

How YouTube will differentiate content that is just entertaining from content that encourages dangerous behavior remains to be seen. The company is already struggling to find the line, noting, for example, that something like Jimmy Kimmel's "terrible Christmas present" challenge will still be allowed going forward.


Fans were similarly split over the announcement, with some feeling that it was a sad necessity and others feeling that it would inevitably take the fun out of YouTube.

"In other words, Google will now determine what is or isn't funny and what is or isn't a prank, because they only want content to come from the same comedic cesspools like Jimmy Kimmel Live," one user tweeted.