The disturbing ‘Elsagate’ trend on YouTube parents need to know about

Kristine Tarbert

Children are being exposed to inappropriate content online through disturbing videos that are disguised as children’s clips.

The new trend of online content is not only making profit out of young children finding and watching these videos online, but it’s also tricking them into watching popular characters in sexual and violent situations.

Cyber safety expert and former undercover online detective Brett Lee is aiming to warn and educate parents on the dangers of leaving young children unsupervised on the web.

'Elsagate' is the disturbing new trend on YouTube. Photo: Getty

This newest trend, he says, is known as ‘Elsagate’ content, taken from the name of popular character Elsa from Disney’s movie Frozen.

The videos generally feature the character either as a cartoon or as someone dressed in costume – but the content is anything from fairytale-like. Other characters such as Spiderman, Peppa Pig and Mickey Mouse also feature prominently.

Children's characters such as Elsa from Frozen feature in the clips. Photo: Disney

“I’m not a tech expert, I’m a detective. But it appears this is slipping under the algorithms whereby it’s thinking that it is content suitable for children but there is some very disturbing content there,” Brett told

“A lot of it is subliminal, there’s common themes like children getting left behind, getting injections, getting your foot caught in the escalator - things children would be fearful of.”

Spiderman and Peppa Pig also feature in the disturbing clips. Photo: Marvel

However, there are also videos showing more explicit content involving sexual acts, fetishes, even bodily harm and kidnapping.

The prominence of ‘Elsagate’ videos has already lead to dedicated forums on social media where people are trying to get the message out about this disturbing content.

Luckily awareness of the inappropriate content has grown over the past 12 months and one of the biggest platforms for it – YouTube – has vowed to try harder to police these clips.

Brett stresses that in his decades doing this kind of work, nothing on the internet has really changed, the difference is that now more and more children have access to it online.

He agrees that simple monitoring software isn’t doing its job anymore and it’s up to the tech giants to have better measures.

YouTube has vowed to crack down on the inappropriate content. Photo: Getty

YouTube released a statement recently saying it would focus on a crackdown on inappropriate videos on its platform, including child exploitation content.

“In recent months, we’ve noticed a growing trend around content on YouTube that attempts to pass as family-friendly, but is clearly not,” the company wrote in a blog post.

“While some of these videos may be suitable for adults, others are completely unacceptable, so we are working to remove them from YouTube.”

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