Websites remove strangling videos

By Terri Judd and Joe Rennison
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The Independent Online

Dozens of videos of children deliberately choking each other to the point of collapse have been deleted by two of the country's most popular websites in an attempt to stem a craze which doctors warn could lead to brain damage and death.

Both YouTube and MySpace confirmed last night that they had removed numerous videos highlighted by The Independent, including one in which a group of teenagers sets out guidelines to the dangerous practice, and others where British voices can be heard.

The newspaper revealed the practice – which doctors warn is "disturbing, highly dangerous and very risky" – on Wednesday. While the problem has been increasingly acknowledged in the US, Canada and France – where an international symposium gathered together leading legal and educational figures recently – campaigners insist Britain is turning a blind eye. Some estimate that as many as 86 youngsters in the UK have died this way.

Last night, both YouTube and MySpace confirmed that all the videos breached their terms of use and had been deleted from the websites.

"We're grateful to The Independent for raising these videos with us. We'd encourage anyone who sees a video that concerns them to report it to our review team straight away, using the 'flag' button found underneath every video," said YouTube.

"We review thousands of videos each day and always investigate reports of suspected unsuitable material. We're continually looking at the best ways to protect young people," added MySpace.