It's not entirely clear how, but jokes and memes about consuming Tide Pods (small, colorful packets of laundry detergent) as snacks have been popularly disseminated on various social media platforms. Now, YouTube is removing videos about eating the chemicals, describing the ongoing joke as "dangerous" as calls to poison control hotlines increase.
According to KnowYourMeme.com, the jokes about eating Tide Pods began in 2015 with the publishing of a satirical article from the point of view of a child determined to eat "one of those multicolored detergent pods." The meme continued to rumble around various corners of the internet until a 2017 College Humor video titled "Don't Eat the Laundry Pods. (Seriously. They're Poison.)" garnered over 3 million views.
In the first month of 2018, the meme has exploded in popularity.
With many either mistaking the joke as a trend or searching for viral fame, videos of people actually eating Tide Pods began circulating on YouTube. Now, the streaming service (which is owned by Google) is taking direct action and removing videos that depict anyone ingesting the poisonous cleaning product.
"YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibit content that's intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm," a Google spokesperson said in a statement, according to CNN. "We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies."
Facebook and Instagram will similarly be removing videos related to what has now been trending as the "Tide Pod Challenge."
"We don't allow the promotion of self-injury and will remove it when we're made aware of it," said a Facebook spokesperson.
"A recent trend among teenagers ingesting the packets -- and uploading videos to various internet platforms including video-sharing websites, social media, and vlogging platforms -- has caused significant concern among poison control centers," added a spokesperson for the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Tide has also issued statements on the matter: "Nothing is more important to us than the safety of people who use our products. [...] We are deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry pacs and have been working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies," said a company representative.
Celebrities like Rob Gronkowski and Paris Hilton are also taking to social media to discourage the spread of the meme.
[Photo: YouTube, Twitter]