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Fake and disturbing versions of "Peppa Pig" and "Doc McStuffins," two widely popular preschool animated series, are streaming on YouTube. A parent discovered this fact when she realized something was off about the cartoons her 3-year-old daughter watched.
Mom and journalist Laura June wrote about the fake versions of "Peppa Pig" and "Doc McStuffins" via The Outline. She found parodies as well as unauthorized altered versions of the cartoons on YouTube, which are not meant for children's viewing.
June believed some of the cartoons seemed a deliberate attempt to trick kids into watching the altered versions. "These videos do seem to be made to confuse children, meaning that kids are somehow, inexplicably, their target audience," June wrote.
It's far from an isolated case. There are indeed hundreds of fake "Peppa Pig" and "Doc McStuffins" on YouTube that generate millions of views, as per BBC.
June noted the people behind these fake "Peppa Pig" and "Doc McStuffins" on YouTube are tricking kids for the ad revenues. The cartoons are so popular on the online video-sharing site that thousands of kids ask their parents to search these. It's easy for the disturbing versions to pop up on the search results using deceiving hashtags.
"The animation is like close enough to looking like Peppa," June told BBC. "It's crude but it's close enough that my daughter was like 'This is Peppa Pig.'"
In addressing the issue, YouTube released a statement suggesting parents must flag the fake videos so the company can take action. YouTube also recommended parents use YouTube Kids app for phones and tablets, instead of the regular app, which has a restricted mode and limited search results.
On the website itself, parents can also set the "Restricted Mode" toggle found at the bottom of YouTube. Since news of the spread of these fake cartoons came up, YouTube already removed some of the disturbing videos, including the fake "Peppa Pig" version June' daughter watched.