PHOTO: Assemblyman Goldfeder said he has reached out to YouTube’s parent company to try to get it to remove “fire challenge” videos in light of multiple cases of children being seriously injured by the activity. Courtesy of YouTube
By Forum Staff
An area elected official this week reached out to the video-streaming website YouTube and asked them to take down a series of popular self-immolation clips in which teens film themselves lighting their bodies on fire and then quickly dousing it or jumping into a pool or a lake.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) sent a letter containing the request to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., which owns YouTube, a week after a 12-year-old Far Rockaway boy was hospitalized with burns to more than 40 percent of his body due to his attempting the so-called fire challenge. Goldfeder told Schmidt that his young constituent is not alone: There have been multiple cases of children being serious injured by the stunt.
“YouTube is literally playing with fire by encouraging this dangerous activity,” Goldfeder said. “These ‘fire challenge’ videos provide no apparent value to society and only serve to encourage more dangerous behavior among our most impressionable children. I urge YouTube to follow its own content guidelines and remove this harmful material before more people get hurt.”
Goldfeder pointed to YouTube’s community guidelines, which state that the company “draws the line” at content with an “inherent risk of serious physical harm.” The policy goes on to add that YouTube may label such videos as age-restricted, requiring users to log into their YouTube or Google accounts to verify their age before accessing the content.
Goldfeder said a recent search of YouTube returned 56,100 fire challenge videos, with some clocking more than one million views. In addition to challenges, the videos also include cautionary testimonials from adolescents that were permanently scarred by the trick.
“As a father of three, it’s hard for me to know that there are children that are willing to risk their lives for a few views on YouTube,” Goldfeder added. “Removing these videos once and for all will help remove the incentive and discourage our children from engaging in this deadly behavior.”