YouTube has shut down Toy Freaks, a controversial but popular channel featuring videos of single dad Greg Chism's two children screaming in fear and pain while he plays pranks on them. Videos on the channel showed the children bathing and pretending to spit up and wet themselves while mimicking babies.
A YouTube representative sent BuzzFeed News a statement about the decision:
We take child safety extremely seriously and have clear policies against child endangerment.We recently tightened the enforcement of these policies to tackle content featuring minors where we receive signals that cause concern. 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.
Popular videos on the channel depict Chism walking into the bathroom, where daughters Annabelle and Victoria are bathing. He scares them with animals as they cry, scream and beg him to stop. The channel had around 8 million subscribers.
"When the girls are playing in the tub, they know I'm probably bringing something in there," Chism says in one such video, in which he torments them with a lobster. "But it's not a snake or frog this time."
A number of videos depict extreme scares, while others show the girls, often with their father, pretending to be babies, spoon-feeding each other, pretending to wet themselves and even spitting up baby food, spaghetti, crayons and other items.
Chism said he was unaware the video was popping up on the YouTube kids' app but that YouTube reached out to him to share "concerns" that his "were attracting audience members who do not have children's best interests in their hearts," according to Variety.
"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," he shared. "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."
Chism explained in a 2015 interview that the channel started with family videos of the girls playing with toys around the house but then he started to notice that some videos were getting tremendous numbers of hits, according to BuzzFeed.
"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," added Chism, who has since deleted his other YouTube channels for his own safety.