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YouTube clarifies rules on pranks as risky memes rage

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YouTube is home to viral challenges like the one involving Tide Pods, which dares people to bite into plastic pods of laundry detergent.

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YOUTUBE on Tuesday clarified rules against posting videos of dangerous pranks, as risky "challenges" prompt people to video themselves doing things like biting into laundry soap or driving blindfolded.

The company already forbids content inciting dangerous activities likely to result in serious harm.

But the clarifications "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", the company said in a blog post.

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"We've made it clear that our policies prohibiting harmful and dangerous content also extend to pranks with a perceived danger of serious physical injury," it also said.

Other social networks are also trying to show that they are making efforts to better tackle problematic content.

It made clear the updated policies ban pranks that trick people into thinking they are in danger, such as fake home invasions or drive-by shootings.

"YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks, like Jimmy Kimmel's 'Terrible Christmas Presents' prank or the water bottle flip challenge," said the video sharing service owned by Google's parent, Alphabet.

"That said, we've always had policies to make sure what's funny doesn't cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous." While playful or goofy challenges or pranks have become raging trends online, with video shared at YouTube or Facebook, some memes have put people in jeopardy.

The "Fire Challenge" dared people to put flammable liquid on their bodies then ignite it, while the "Tide Pod Challenge" incited people, typically teens, to bite into or chew the encapsulated candy-coloured laundry detergent.

Bird Box, a streaming thriller released on Netflix a month ago, has inspired people to do things blindfolded, mimicking characters in the film.

Over the weekend, a US teenager crashed while driving with her eyes covered, taking part in a challenge inspired by the hit Netflix show, it was reported in the media.

YouTube policy also bans pranks that cause children trauma, for example the fake death of a parent or severe abandonment.

Accounts that post videos violating policies on pranks will get a "strike" that will limit features such as live streaming. A second strike within three months will result in even more limited use of YouTube; accounts getting three strikes in that time period will be terminated. AFP