The new guidance “[makes] it clear” that viral trends like the Tide Pod and fire challenges “have no place on YouTube”.
The updated policies also include a ban on pranks which make the victim believe they are in “serious physical danger”, including a staged home invasion or a fake drive-by shooting.
Prank videos involving children are also mentioned in the new measures, with content which causes “severe emotional distress” and could leave the child “traumatised for life” being prohibited on the platform.
Speaking to TenEighty, a YouTube spokesperson said: “YouTube has long prohibited videos which promote harmful or dangerous activities and we routinely review and update our enforcement guidelines to make sure they’re consistent and appropriately address emerging trends.
“We heard feedback from creators that we could provide some clarity on certain Community Guidelines, so we published materials detailing our policies against pranks that cause others to seriously fear for their safety or that cause serious emotional distress to children and vulnerable individuals.”
While the spokesperson says the guidance is not in response to one specific challenge, the new rules come after a string of viral trends in recent months.
In December, following the launch of the Netflix film Bird Box, reports began to emerge of individuals undertaking dangerous tasks whilst blindfolded.
The US streaming service was later forced to take to Twitter to warn the public about the challenge, saying characters Boy and Girl wish that people don’t “end up in hospital due to memes”.
Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 2, 2019
The latest developments around dangerous pranks and challenges follows the news last month that YouTube removed 7.8 million videos for “violative content” between July and September 2018.
A 60-day grace period is now in place following the announcement, where videos in found in breach of the rules will be removed without a community guidelines strike being issued.
The exception also applies to content posted before the new policies were enforced.
Find out more about YouTube’s new Stories feature, or read about the academic cheating videos removed from the platform following a BBC investigation.