Greg Chism, a single father of two young girls, has been officially banned from YouTube after his channel “Toy Freaks” grew to more than 8 million subscribers. The channel featured the elementary school-aged girls in disturbing and strange scenarios. To make matters worse, the videos — which included the girls bathing, being scared to tears, spitting up onto one another, and being dressed up as babies — attracted millions of views, making the channel among the top 100 most-viewed on the platform.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a rep for YouTube addressed the fact that the channel had grown to such popularity before it was shut down. "We recently tightened the enforcement of these policies to tackle content featuring minors where we receive signals that cause concern," the rep said. "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.”
In an interview from 2015, Greg talked about how he began to grow his Toy Freaks channel. "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," he said. "I started seeing a pattern, these certain videos were getting more views than the others.”
The “pattern” that developed featured videos of older daughter Victoria “babysitting” her younger sister Annabelle who would be dressed up as a baby. Much of the video would consist of Annabelle’s bodily functions. She would eat and spit up baby food and “pee” on her older sister. Other videos would show Greg scaring his daughters by dropping live animals like frogs and lobsters into the bathtub while they bathed together. The highest viewed video on the channel according to Variety was titled “Bad Baby Real Food Fight Victoria vs Annabelle & Freak Daddy Toy Freaks Family,” which got more than 600 million views.
This issue of inappropriate and disturbing videos lying under the radar as children’s videos has been ongoing. Very basically, the algorithm that YouTube has been using has allowed for videos like Toy Freaks featuring children or cartoon characters to be targeted to children as “kid-friendly.”
YouTuber Philip DeFranco broke down the scandal in a video from Nov. 17. “There’s a huge subsection of videos that are very troubling,” he said. “What we often see is that they use children’s characters in the videos, they have children’s titles and tags that are specifically designed to take advantage of the YouTube algorithm… You’ll notice a lot of the titles, the descriptions, the tags, it’s kind of like this ‘word soup.’ Once again that’s people taking advantage of the algorithm by using highly-searched terms in the description. There’s a full disgusting rainbow of obscene and really inappropriate videos.”
Greg denied all accusations that he was abusing or exploiting his kids in a statement to Variety. “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,” he said. “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.”