Students online facing racy video

Sites like Google Video and YouTube under pressure to limit youth access to user-created soft porn.

Shielding kids from unsavory and sometimes shocking images on popular sites like MySpace, YouTube, Yahoo, and Google has gotten a bit more challenging as people rush to upload videos—some of which are inappropriate for the under-13 set, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

With the availability of video cameras and ubiquitous broadbroad, uploading videos has become wildly popular. YouTube, the leading video site attracts more than 20 million visitors in May. The company says it averages 50,000 new video uploads per day. But the YouTubes of the world are struggling to keep up with parents requests to censure obscene uploads.

In an alert to parents, the New York State Consumer Protection Board last month issued a consumer alert and pushed Google to do more to protect children.

"Parents have a hard enough time policing the Internet without Google Video making it easier to see and to save these types of videos," said Teresa Santiago, the board's chair.

Website do have some protections against obscene videos, though obviously they aren't foolproof. The sites require users to sign a prohibition of obscene submittals, such as pornography or nudity. Yahoo recently added a "Safe Search" feature, and most sites ask for a community policing policy by asking viewers to alert them to objectionable clips. "The really objectionable material gets flagged very quickly" - and is pulled from the site usually within 15 minutes, said YouTube spokeswoman Julie Supan.

The dilemma for these sites is that on one hand they want to be an uncensored platform for people to post their work but they also don't want to drive away offended viewers or advertisers.

"We are concerned about this issue and are aware that it affects most services that make video available on the Internet," Google stated in response to the New York Consumer Board alert.

In the end, videos must be viewed by human editors and often the choice to censor is a subjective one. Trying to view the flood of video submittals is a daunting task.