The UK government has removed all of its advertising from Google and YouTube due to fears that their ads are appearing on inappropriate and extremist content. Channel 4, L’Oreal and The Guardian are also said to have done the same due to similar concerns.
We found this statement from the Cabinet Office in a BBC News article “We have placed a temporary restriction on our YouTube advertising pending reassurances from Google that government messages can be delivered in a safe and appropriate way.”
An investigation by The Times, found that advertising from the companies mentioned above and others, were found next to inappropriate and offensive content.
The Times reported that they had found ads at the side of content from hate preachers, anti-Semites and rape apologists, with ads from the BBC, Royal Navy and The Home Office appearing alongside content from a pastor that has praised the killing of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
The problem is having ads appear alongside content on YouTube means that the content creator receives money from them, it is around £6 per 1000 views, meaning that the companies and the government have technically been funding extremism without knowing.
Google has released a blog post addressing the issue, saying:
“We believe strongly in the freedom of speech and expression on the web—even when that means we don’t agree with the views expressed. At the same time, we recognize the need to have strict policies that define where Google ads should appear.”
They also said they are making changes in the coming weeks to give brand more control over where their ads appear on both YouTube and the Google Display Network. Google were said to also be meeting with ministers at the cabinet office to discuss why it was happening and what was being done to stop it and prevent it in the future.
Whilst I know the ads appearing where they are is bad for the companies, I’m sure that Google is doing what they can but with 400 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute and with the sheer volume of sites within their network, they can’t be everywhere and like they said in their blog post, they don’t always get it right.
UPDATE 20/03/17: M&S, RBS, Lloyds, HSBC, McDonalds and Audi are the newest companies that are said to have pulled their advertising from Google and YouTube over the weekend with Sky and Vodafone considering doing the same.