YouTube announced it has taken down two channels operated by a couple on probation for child neglect following an uproar from online users.
The channels “FamilyOFive” and “FamilyOFive Gaming” were terminated Wednesday, WUSA 9 reported. The channels had more than 400,000 subscribers.
The couple who ran the channels, Heather and Mike Martin, were sentenced to five years of probation in September 2017 for child neglect over controversial “prank” videos that online users said amounted to child abuse. The husband and wife filmed hundreds of now-deleted videos of themselves screaming profanities at their children and breaking their toys on Mike Martin's “DaddyOFive” YouTube channel, The Baltimore Sun reported.
At the time, Heather and Mike Martin each entered Alford pleas to two counts of child neglect. An Alford plea allowed them to maintain their innocence while acknowledging the evidence.
The investigation focused on Michael Martin's two biological children, to whom Heather Martin was their stepmother. Prosecutors said the kids experienced "substantial impairments of their mental or psychological ability to function."
In May 2017, the couple lost custody of the two children to their biological mother but three others kids, who were not part of the investigation, continued to live with the Martins, WUSA 9 reported.
Online users were outraged to learn the couple was still making videos despite being on probation for child neglect. Social media users in a Reddit forum asked why YouTube had not banned the couple or taken the channels down.
Google, which owns YouTube, released a statement regarding the removal.
“Content that endangers children is unacceptable to us. We have worked extensively alongside experts in child safety to make sure we have strict policies and are aggressively enforcing them," the statement read. "Given this channel owner’s previous strikes for violating our Guidelines prohibiting child endangerment, we’re removing all of his channels under our Terms of Service.”
The couple released a statement regarding the channels' removal.
“Our family has worked very hard to heal and reestablish ourselves over the past 18 months. Through a lot of hard work and introspection, we are all doing well, and are happy. YouTube is something we enjoy as a family, and we will continue to do it, within the strict boundaries we have set for ourselves," the Martins' statement said. "For the sake of our privacy and continued healing, I have no further comment or anything past, or present at this time.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.