The internet is a commodity that many of us use every day and, at times, may even take for granted. In the relatively short span of time that it has existed the internet has become a never-ending pool of videos, blogposts, articles, and various other ideological outputs. Many of us use it casually, whether it be for posting our favorite Redbone remixes on YouTube or even viewing the latest Hollywood celebrity scandal. However, as much good as there is on the worldwide web a bad and much darker side has emerged on YouTube in recent years.
This strange phenomenon, known as Elsagate, involves hundreds if not thousands of videos that have underlying tones of fetish behavior. What makes these videos stand out, however, is the fact that they are seemingly geared towards children. The name "Elsagate" comes from the fact that many of these videos often contain live-action or crudely animated iterations of popular characters such as Spider-Man, The Joker, Mickey Mouse, and, of course, Elsa.
Oddly enough, many of the most popular videos in this unfortunate subcategory focus on themes such as fascinations with dangerous situations, violence, and overtly sexual acts. Again, these videos are aimed at and made for young children yet present to the subject matter which is completely inappropriate for their age. In some instances, children themselves are even used as the main actors. This, of course, has raised suspicion as to whether child abuse may be at play as many of these children do not appear to enjoy or even be compliant in their roles.
Although this phenomenon has likely been going on for several years, media attention was only brought to the subject in 2016. In 2017, after several major YouTubers made videos exploring and exposing the oddity that is Elsagate, many major mainstream media outlets ran with the story. Despite this, the videos and channels involved in this conspiracy continue to post content and amass millions of views in extremely short amounts of time.
The massive and unnerving success of such videos on the platform begs the question of just how this kind of content can gain so much traction; especially when YouTube claims there are safeguards and algorithms put in place to protect against this kind of thing.
In today's internet age the popular app YouTube Kids is one such tool many parents use to make sure their young children cannot stumble upon inappropriate videos. The app works by filtering content aimed at older audiences away from the catalog so that there isn't even a remote possibility for children to see anything they shouldn't. It appears that these videos are somehow bypassing the algorithm that is responsible for this filtering by disguising themselves with bright colors and playful characters often associated with children's videos and shows.
Regardless of whether or not YouTube is simply lazy or their algorithm for separating videos is broken, why these videos are being made and what purpose they entertain is a question many parents, as well as the internet community, are asking to this day. Naturally, due to their nature, communities have sprung up around these videos claiming that they serve as a means to brainwash and indoctrinate children. Although there have yet to be any scientific studies conducted on the subject, many parents claim to have seen aberrant behavior amongst their children after viewing such videos. Whether any of these claims have any validity to them, only time will tell.
Although YouTube's recent response to these videos has purportedly lessened the output of such content due to demonetization, it will be interesting to see whether or not this will actually affect their production. Nonetheless, regardless of their intentions or upload rate, the videos and channels involved in Elsagate are something that everyone, especially parents, should be aware of and ready to protect their children against.