YouTube has terminated the massive channel Toy Freaks in what appears to be a purge of questionable content aimed at kids.
With over 8.5 million subscribers, Toy Freaks was one of the largest channels to produce content aimed at children, though many parents found issues with the weird, often creepy, and potentially abusive videos.
The channel featured a father, referred to as “Freak Daddy” and his two daughters, Victoria and Annabelle. Though the channel has been terminated, a quick search on YouTube shows a number of their videos existing on other channels, like the one below.
A spokesperson for YouTube issued the following statement to Mashable:
“We take child safety extremely seriously and have clear policies against child endangerment. 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. We’ve terminated the Toy Freaks channel for violation of our policies. We will be conducting a broader review of associated content in conjunction with expert Trusted Flaggers.”
The videos often featured the young girls in possibly abusive situations, prompting concerned parents and popular YouTubers to complain, and call for a shutdown of the channel.
While criticism of Toy Freaks has existed for years, recent media coverage of this channel and others like it has brought more attention to the videos.
“This … father puts his young daughters under extreme pressure, pain, stress and anxiety and films them. He is profiting off of his children’s pain and suffering. If this isn’t abuse, I don’t know what is,” one Redditor wrote on the YouTube subbredit.
In the same post, the Redditor describes a specific video, which bothered them.
“One of their latest videos sees the father follow his little girl into the bathroom and film her as she’s crying in severe pain, blood flowing from her mouth and her tooth falling out,” they wrote.
The channel also popularized the “bad baby” trope, which often featured one of the children on the channel misbehaving.
“Toddler is never so uncontrollable as she is after watching one of those stupid fucking bad baby videos,” one annoyed parent wrote about the trope.
While Toy Freaks was wildly popular, it was also a money-making machine that benefitted heavily from YouTube’s algorithm. According to the third-party analytics site Social Blade, the channel brought in an estimated $838,300 to $13.4 million annually. While that estimate is vast, even the low end of that scale shows someone was making some serious money.
Back in October, Mashable first reported that creepy, weird, and often violent videos were slipping through YouTube’s filters, often landing on its YouTube Kids app. Follow up stories from the New York Timesand a popular Medium post highlighted the issue further.
YouTube announced a new policy change last week, that age restricts flagged content on its main app, which will automatically block it from getting filtered into the Kids App. The Toy Freaks channel appears to be just one step in a larger push from YouTube to reign in its content aimed at children.