YouTube’s Search Bar Is Showing Users Sexually Inappropriate Autofill Results

27 November 2017, 12:12

YouTube autocomplete suggests sex crimes
YouTube autocomplete suggests sex crimes. Picture: other
Benedict Townsend

By Benedict Townsend

Extremely disturbing

This story contains details some may find disturbing.

This past week YouTube users have reported that YouTube's search bar has been autocompleting the innocent phrase 'how to have...' with phrases like 'how to have s*x with kids' and 'how to have s*x with my kids'.

Buzzfeed attempted to replicate the results but searching in an incognito window (which gives you results untouched by your own search preferences) and found that it did indeed happen:

YouTube's autocomplete
Image via: Buzzfeed News. Picture: other

What is going on?

Buzzfeed reached out to YouTube, who gave the following statement:

"Earlier today our teams were alerted to this awful autocomplete result and we worked to quickly remove it," the company said. "We are investigating this matter to determine what was behind the appearance of this autocompletion."

The fact that the site was suggesting these results with no prompting suggests either a massive issue with their search algorithm, or a massive load of people searching for those results - which would likely be a coordinated trolling campaign. At the moment it is not clear, but this is yet another reminder to be careful online, particularly if you are a parent of a young child surfing the web.

We tested the search and found that the more disturbing results no longer appear, although the search 'how to have s*x' in school does:

sexual youtube search results
sexual youtube search results. Picture: other