YouTube has launched an investigation after its autofill feature was found to be displaying search suggestions related to pedophilia and child abuse.
After typing “how to have” into YouTube’s search bar, users reported seeing vile search suggestions such as “how to have s*x in school” and “how to have s*x with your kids”.
“Earlier today our teams were alerted to this profoundly disturbing autocomplete result and we worked to quickly remove it as soon as we were made aware,” a spokesperson for YouTube said in a statement
“We are investigating this matter to determine what was behind the appearance of this autocompletion.”
The fact the search results contained an asterisk appear to suggest that this was enough for the search results to avoid YouTube’s filters.
BuzzFeed speculated that the autofill suggestions were the result of a campaign by online trolls to repeatedly searched for the offending terms in order to make them appear in the search results.
“The results are very specific and could be the result of a co-ordinated campaign to game the algorithm,” BuzzFeed reported.
Last week YouTube came under fire after an investigation by The Times newspaper found that comments from hundreds of paedophiles were posted alongside videos of scantily clad children.
The Time said YouTube, a unit of Alphabet subsidiary Google, had allowed sexualised imagery of children to be easily searchable and not lived up to promises to better monitor and police its services to protect children, Reuters reported.
The incident resulted in some of the world’s best known brands pulling advertisements on the site.
“We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content,” said Mars in a statement.