What if I told you that a TV fresh out of the box and connected to power and internet could be streaming a movie with several minutes of nudity, graphic rape scenes, sexual torture, mutilations, all by selecting one of the factory pre-installed apps, pressing “guest” and searching for one word?
TL;DR – out of the box with no skill, email account, or age verification required, your TV can stream violent sexual content with the preinstalled apps and a couple of taps. Just be aware. I’m not lighting torches and raising pitchforks here, just was honestly gobsmacked today how easy it is. Also this is the same no verification with Tubi, Plex, Amazon, IMDB TV, Roku Search, Vizio search.
Don’t use a streaming app but it’s preinstalled on your TV? Think you’ve got your streaming services locked down with parental controls? If it’s on your TV, even if you don’t use it, never signed up for an account, didn’t remove it, you’re probably not in control of what your child can watch or stumble across. (wow that reads like a local news at 10 commercial) – oh yeah a couple of hours after posting this I realized that the default searches on VIZIO and Roku also mirror all of this.
I will note the thing of concern here is unrequested streaming apps being available on your TV right out of the box with little, or in the case below no regard for a minor audience. Less about Plex or any streamers content, but Plex is already having a really bad week and they’re the ones we’re using for example here. I will also note this is out of the box with no configuration.
I will finally preface that after writing this article based on Plex I discovered using Vizio’s Smartcast & Roku’s search I was able to launch the same movie I talk about on Plex in a streaming service called Tubi, then IMDB TV, then another.
Also with no age check, verification, etc. While my initial focus was on Plex it became apparent that it was not unique in its complete disregard for any sort of verification. Sorry to have pointed at you initially, Plex.
Please don’t read manufactured outrage, or real for that matter, I’m just pointing out this is an issue parents might want to consider. Everything on the internet sounds like screaming and trying to ram your opinion down someone’s throat. I’m really just kind of shocked how easy it was.
Below I highlight one streaming service – Plex’s Movies and TV, an ad driven streaming service, for not having any useful restrictions or any age verification out of the box. This is not a judgement call on what is or is not acceptable. This is just saying, literally, that it’s less difficult to see nudity and rape scenes on Plex Movies and TV without an account or any age verification than it is to sign up for an account with Plex. Other services are similar.
Tubi – literally launched the movie from Vizio search so I didn’t tap or type anything into that app. Plex from the app I tapped “guest”.
What’s a bit concerning here is that these (Plex, Tubi) are all pre-installed on at least Vizio Smartcast devices that I know of, perhaps other manufacturer’s TVs as well. Even if you don’t use an app, it’s there. Open it and you’re just a couple of taps to some content I can guarantee isn’t kid appropriate.
possibly the same for (at least one,) other free movies services, but Plex’s what I’m playing with today. I will also point out I am not picking on the 2010 remake movie “I Spit on Your Grave” – it’s just by far the easiest to point at the synopsis and say that it’s probably universally accepted that it’s not appropriate for a child to watch it. No child is ever going to search for the word “spit” are they? Kids are too serious for that. (see above picture for what happens when you type spit into a Vizio search bar.)
I’m not asking for it to be removed. I’m not saying Plex (and Tubi,) are bad services. They can serve what they want to serve. However I would suggest with 30+ minutes of full nudity and at least four protracted sexual assault/rape scenes in the movie streaming services ask in some fashion “are you over 18?” (or require an account,) before streaming to anyone on the internet with a connected default TV who may have heard of it. But that’s their business model.
No, really not clutching pearls here, your presumed outrage I have is mistaken. I was genuinely surprised how easy it was to locate, stream, and watch a really twisted movie from a default install of a TV never being challenged once to even enter a birthday. You need it locked down or suspect your kid who types things in the search bar like poop might type spit? Check it out.
Wondering what you can watch that might cause one to clutch one’s pearls? Here’s a list of some of them. No judgement. Some are great. I mean I am not the target audience for having to lock down all media content. I’m not the getting offended target, or attempting to be a manufacturer of outrage for this either. You need to know what your kid has access to, these services and TVs bundling stuff like they do, requiring no accounts, age verification, etc to access content, make this a lot more difficult.
Got a Vizio TV? Plex and Tubi along with several other free streaming services are preinstalled with SmartCast. Do you know how to uninstall all those apps? I don’t and I’m in IT. I have been looking for the past hour and only finding the pre 2017 OS guide. I don’t think it’s possible to uninstall anything on Smartcast since 2016. Just factory reset.
I’m going to note here while I added an account in Plex and set no restrictions, pulled up my standard not safe for kids movie, I didn’t verify that if you are a Plex user that there was no way to lock Plex out of adding an account. Setting up Plex on the Vizio has been a pain in the past (remote tends to drop presses, not a Vizio problem, remote control problem).
Am I talking about extreme hacker stuff here? No. This is on TVs out of the box. Using years of hacking skills to press “guest” on the Plex app, or just OK using Vizio’s search to launch Tubi or install IMDB TV and launch the movie with one tap. On Roku I just had to know to install the Plex channel. Is this me saying BURN PLEX? No…
I pitted three other streaming services against Plex for an “are you of legal age to watch this?” button or account requirement. Yeah, none of them asked.
Basically end statement is if it’s on your TV you need to verify that it serves what you want and nothing else, and that’s a major challenge on these devices (like Vizio,) where apps get updated at the same time and few of them tell you that they have changed in any substantive fashion. I have streaming services I’ve never even heard of on my Vizio (including Tubi, which served the same content Plex did for free.)
I checked my Vizio, there appear to be 20+ streaming services that are free/ad supported. Searching how to delete these doesn’t return how to delete or lock out apps on any search I have done. Feel free to point me to how to delete Xubi, Plex, Tubi, Pluto, Crackle, disable Vizio search or any of these other services from a Vizio.
My point stands that it appears you’ll need to investigate all of these or how the parental locks actually work if you actually care. I should point out I do not care a great deal about this, this was just astounding to me that there is literally no barrier from a TV out of the box connected to WiFi to that movie.