Cooking channel penalized for warning about a dangerous practice

Cooking channel penalized for warning about a dangerous practice
Hazardous activities
Content Moderation

Ann Reardon, owner of the YouTube channel How To Cook That, was alarmed by the proliferation of videos on TikTok and other social media about fractal wood burning. As she has done with other dangerous activities on the Internet, in early July Reardon posted a video seeking to dissuade her audience from doing this practice, which involves creating images and patterns on wooden boards through electricity. Within days, YouTube removed the content.

At first, Reardon thought it was a move by the platform to remove all posts related to this trend that has become very popular in recent years. However, he soon discovered that YouTube was still full of tutorials showing users how to disassemble a microwave oven, manipulate its transformer and build a homemade machine to create these wooden figures. 

The deleted video was called "Debunking deadliest craft hack, 34 death", alluding to the number of people who have died from electric shocks related to this technique in the United States. In the comments section many users thanked Reardon for this information, others lamented the death of family members, and one doctor even recounted the experience of having to inform a woman about the death of her husband from this practice.

Despite the clear intent of the video and the response from users, YouTube found it to be unsafe for the community and in breach of the rules on harmful or dangerous content, which prohibit challenges that may put users at risk, threatening jokes or the promotion of eating disorders. The same policy, like several of the platform, allows educational, documentary, scientific or artistic publications that address these issues with an informative or dissuasive purpose, as was indeed the case with Reardon's video.

The user appealed the decision and, in the meantime, uploaded a new video explaining the sanction. At the end, she added a fragment of the removed content exposing the risks of fractal wood burning and including news fragments and testimonies of people seriously affected by this practice. "The purpose was to alert people and now thanks to YouTube a lot fewer people are going to see this warning," Reardon said in the second video. Shortly thereafter, however, the original content was reinstated. To date it has reached more than two million views.

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