By Sy Mukherjee
January 18, 2018

YouTube will begin taking down videos of the “Tide Pod challenge” because the viral online fad represents a public health threat, the company announced.

“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm,” said YouTube in a statement. “We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies.” (A cursory search of YouTube shows that this particularly game of “whack-a-mole” seems to be largely successful.)

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If you’re wondering what the Tide Pod challenge is, it’s potentially the dumbest non-laundry related thing you can do with a detergent capsule—recording yourself intentionally eating a Tide Pod and posting it on YouTube and social media. Because, the Internet, and likes, apparently. (One entrepreneurial spirit took things to the next level recently by recording himself vaping a Tide Pod. Yes, we’re doomed.)

Enough teenagers have engaged in the Tide Pod challenge that it’s warranted public health scrutiny. According to the Association of Poison Control Centers, 25% of the 220 teens who were exposed to Tide Pods last year consumed them intentionally, and half of 37 cases in 2018 to date were intentional, the Washington Post reports. It’s unclear whether or not anyone has actually died from the Tide Pod challenge to date (there have been no such publicly reported cases so far), but it’s entirely possible to die from consuming enough laundry detergent.

That’s because the pods are toxic. And eating a Tide Pod could cause stomach problems, breathing problems, corrosive damage to the throat, oscillations in blood pressure, and even neurological damage. Young children who have accidentally consumed these kinds of detergent have gone into comas and even died. In fact, companies that manufacture the products have been urged to make them more child-proof.

If you see any videos of the Tide Pod challenge on YouTube, go ahead and flag it to the site for removal. And maybe say a small prayer for the future.

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