YouTube finally pays the price for hosting hateful content

Some of America’s biggest advertisers are joining their British counterparts in boycotting Google.
AT&T, car rental giant Enterprise, and pharmaceutical company GSK have each decided to suspend all YouTube ads after The Times of London reported that the brands had appeared alongside videos with hate speech and extremism.
The companies are among the first in the United States to join what’s become a full-scale revolt among advertisers in the UK this week.
The decisions all come the day after Google announced a handful of new tools meant to give advertisers more control over where their ads appear. The search giant has also apologized repeatedly and vowed to beef up the staff dedicated to sussing out extreme content.
Apparently the company’s assurances weren’t convincing enough.
“We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate,” an AT&T spokesperson said in an email statement. “Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms.”
Enterprise took its statement a step further with an indictment of automated digital ads as a whole.
“Programmatic buying is a relatively new advertising ‘science,’ and has only become mainstream within the last four or five years,” an Enterprise spokesperson said. “It appears that technology has gotten ahead of the advertising industry’s checks-and-balances.There is no doubt there are serious flaws that need to be addressed.”
GSK said it was encouraged by Google’s “first steps” towards solving the problem but would pull ads from all Google platforms until the issue is resolved.
“The placement of our brands next to extremist content is completely unacceptable to us and we have raised our concerns directly with Google,” a company spokesperson said. “We are encouraged by Google’s steps over the past few days to take action and will continue to work with them to make further progress in developing adequate safeguards to ensure that advertisers are not placed in this position.”
The companies join British advertisers like HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, L’Oreal, ad agency Havas UK, and others that have pulled their spending from Google this week in the wake of reports that ads were appearing on videos from former KKK leader David Duke, a homophobic preacher who praised the Orland nightclub shooting, among other extremists.
Google wouldn’t comment on the decisions but reiterated that it was working towards fixing the issue.
“We don’t comment on individual customers but as announced, we’ve begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear,” a spokesperson said Wednesday. “We’re also raising the bar for our ads policies to further safeguard our advertisers’ brands.”
Speaking at the Advertising Week Europe conference in London this week, Google’s head of European operations acknowledged that the problem wasn’t confined to the UK.

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