A few days ago I received a notice from Youtube about one of our videos. Apparently someone had marked it “inappropriate” and following review by Youtube staff the video was age-restricted.

The video in question is part of a series called “Favourite Things“, in which museum staffers select one of their favourite museum objects and describes it and why it is so special. In this particular video, Collections Manager Ion Meyer, is showing and describing three preparations of a so-called ischiopagus. That is, twins conjoined at the pelvis.

Since the video was published in March 2011 it has had almost 220,000 views. In comparison, the second-most watched video in our Youtube-channel has had less than 10,000 views. The ischiopagus video has also triggered more comments than is usual for our videos. We have tried to respond to all serious comments, but we also chosen not to respond to some, e.g.

Why would any parent let someone do this to their children! They need a proper burial! Bless there souls! <3

If you look at the Youtube guidelines, reasons for placing an age-restriction on a video include

  • Sexually suggestive content
  • Partial nudity or non-sexual nudity
  • Actual violence or very graphic fictional violence
  • Gory, disturbing imagery in an appropriate context

However, they also highlight notable exceptions for

some educational, artistic, documentary and scientific content (e.g. health education, documenting human rights issues, etc.), but only if this is the sole purpose of the video and it is not gratuitously graphic…

Without proper context and explanations I can see how someone could feel the imagery in video could is disturbing. However, it should be clear that the purpose of this video is exactly as described in the exception.

Is the video inappropriate for young audiences? I don’t think so. However, Youtube provides no means of appealing an age-restriction imposed on a video, so it doesn’t really matter what we think. I wonder if other museums have had similar experiences with videos on Youtube?

You can see the video below and judge for yourself.

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