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Sandra Bullock in a scene from the film "Bird Box."

Internet challenges are nothing new, but they seem to be getting increasingly stupid and dangerous. Remember the ice bucket challenge to bring awareness to ALS? Even that trend of people getting freezing cold water dumped on them ended up with some mishaps. In 2018 we saw the rise of the Tide Pod challenge where kids ingested laundry detergent.

Just before Christmas, Netflix released “Bird Box,” a horror movie where people die if they see certain things. Star Sandra Bullock and some other survivors try to stay alive by keeping their eyes shut by means of blindfolds.

Netflix tweeted that “Bird Box” had the best first seven days ever for a Netflix film, with more than 45 million people watching in that time period. And for some reason, certain viewers thought it would be a good idea to perform everyday tasks wearing a blindfold. In Utah, a teenager decided to drive a car with her beanie hat over her eyes. She ended up sideswiping another vehicle and crashing into a light pole.

Netflix got wind of the viral challenge its movie started and released a warning on Twitter asking people not to hurt themselves. “We appreciate the love,” Netflix tweeted, “but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes." This after one YouTube star released a video of himself walking into Los Angeles traffic and driving all while wearing a blindfold. This video also contained a warning to viewers never to try it themselves, but looks like not everyone heeded the warning.

Amy Iverson
Netflix warned viewers to be careful.

YouTube has taken that video down and many others relating to the "Bird Box" Challenge. The website is now telling creators to be more careful. Updated Community Guidelines specifically point out viral challenges and pranks and warn creators to make sure they don’t cross the line into being harmful.

“We’ve updated our external guidelines to make it clear that we prohibit challenges presenting a risk of serious danger or death, and pranks that make victims believe they’re in serious physical danger, or cause children to experience severe emotional distress,” it says on YouTube’s website.

The company is giving creators a grace period to allow them time to change or remove content. It says for the next two months, YouTube will continue to remove content violating the Community Guidelines related to challenges and pranks, but will not give the channel a strike.

YouTube issues strikes to a channel when it violates the Community Guidelines. Creators are alerted they’ve received a strike, and each strike expires three months after it’s issued. When a channel has a strike on its account, it may lose access to some features on YouTube, including live streaming. If the channel gets a second strike within three months, it won’t be able to post any new content to YouTube for two weeks. Three strikes and YouTube terminates the account.

1 comment on this story

Currently, a 24-hour "Bird Box" Challenge is making the rounds and popping up all over the web. Netflix and YouTube are asking everyone to be aware and that includes parents keeping an eye out as well. It’s important for moms and dads to know about these viral memes so we can make sure kids don’t fall in to mimicking this stupidity. Sometimes these pranks are all fun and games, but other times they can lead to real harm. Let’s all get a little smarter about knowing the difference.