YouTube recently shut down one of its most popular channels over allegations of child abuse and exploitation as part of its wider crackdown on disturbing content targeting children.
A single dad from Illinois, Greg Chism, created the wildly popular YouTube channel “Toy Freaks” where he posted bizarre – and more often than not extremely inappropriate – videos featuring his young daughters, Victoria and Annabelle, who are now 6 and 4-years-old respectively.
Chism filmed his daughters while they were bathing and uploaded several videos that showed the girls pretending to be babies, being force fed, spitting up food on one another and wetting themselves. He also used to deliberately scare the two, particularly when they were in shower, and then post the entire thing on YouTube.
One of the most watched videos on the channel reportedly showed one of Chism's daughters urinating on the other as he focused the camera on the wet patch on her bottom. In another video, the dad filmed himself threatening to put a dirty frog into the bathroom while the girls, who were bathing at the time, screamed and cried in horror.
What is even more disturbing is that millions of people watched these videos for years.
The channel had 8.53 million subscribers and was among the top 100 most-viewed channels on the platform. In fact, Toy Freaks had managed to accumulate a legion of dedicated fans, some of whom also made equally disturbing and repugnant fan videos – one of which showed an animated Annabelle urinating on her father – which received millions of views.
While YouTube shut down Toy Freaks citing community guidelines violations, Chism’s two other channels, Freak Family Vlogs and Freak World, were active until Tuesday.
YouTube said Chism himself deactivated the channels.
“We recently tightened the enforcement of these policies to tackle content featuring minors where we receive signals that cause concern,” the company said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “It’s not always clear that the uploader of the content intends to break our rules, but we may still remove their videos to help protect viewers, uploaders and children. We’ve terminated the Toy Freaks channel for violation of our policies. We will be conducting a broader review of associated content in conjunction with expert Trusted Flaggers.”
Meanwhile, Chism said he is closely working with the online platform to rectify the situation.
“Many YouTube community members expressed similar concerns, and their willingness to reach out to protect my children and all children from exploitation reinforces my faith in the YouTube community,” the father told Variety following his channel’s termination. “Victoria, Annabelle and I want to thank our supporters as my girls have had the opportunity to develop their creativity and self-confidence over the past few years. Their future is bright. While it is disturbing to me that anyone would find inappropriate pleasure in our video skits, I deeply appreciate YouTube’s concerns for my family and I could not be happier with having had this remarkable experience.”
Some Toy Freaks videos, re-uploaded by other YouTube channels, have also been removed.
“It was just family videos. I take videos with my kids and I post them up there, and just like home stuff, you know, playing in the living room, with toys and everything,” Chism explained during an interview in 2015. “I started seeing a pattern — these certain videos were getting more views than the others. So, I focused on that, I analyzed each video, the description, the titles, the tags, everything involved in making that video and just what made these a success, and I tried to repeat it, and I've had some good luck with that.”
In the same interview, he also spoke about how his viral videos were “kind of making me some money.”
finding out that one of the most popular channels on YouTube (and especially on YouTube Kids) is a child abuse fetish channel has made me feel completely ill all day. I hope the Toy Freaks kids can be rescued from their dad soon.— Carta Monir (@CartaMonir) November 7, 2017
It is absolutely sickening how Chism was able to upload such content for years without YouTube taking any action against him, but what is more worrisome is this prevalence of similar disturbing content on the internet specifically targeted towards children.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Pixabay, Kaufdex