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Ads from 300 firms running on YouTube with extremist videos

Sheetal Sukhija - Saturday 21st April, 2018

CALIFORNIA, U.S. - Troubles mounted for YouTube on Friday, after a report revealed that over 300 companies are still facing problems with their advertisement videos being placed on extremist videos on the Google-owned video streaming site.

For over a year now, since the complaints were first raised in the U.K., YouTube has been trying to resolve the problem and win back the advertisers who quit the site as part of a sudden and dramatic exodus over the same issue.

Now, an investigation by CNN reportedly revealed that ads from more than 300 companies and organizations have been running on YouTube channels that promote extreme content, including white nationalist and Nazi ideas, pedophilia, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda.

The report noted that five U.S. government agencies had their ads placed on extremist videos, as did religious organizations and some film studios.

It also revealed that companies like Amazon, Adidas, Facebook, Mozilla, Netflix, Nordstrom, Under Armor were affected.

According to the report, many of the companies said they did not know their ads had been placed on the videos and were taking action to figure out why they were placed there. 

The report pointed out that when companies advertise with YouTube, they can target their ads based on user behavior and demographics. 

Further, companies are allowed the option to block specific channels and choose a “sensitive subject exclusion” filter, which is meant to prevent ads from appearing on certain channels.

In its defense, YouTube has stated that it wants to work with advertisers to control inappropriate content, but has so far, not commented on the findings of the recent investigation.

A YouTube spokeswoman was quoted as saying, “We have partnered with our advertisers to make significant changes to how we approach monetization on YouTube with stricter policies, better controls and greater transparency. When we find that ads mistakenly ran against content that doesn’t comply with our policies, we immediately remove those ads. We know that even when videos meet our advertiser friendly guidelines, not all videos will be appropriate for all brands. But we are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right.”

Last year, hundreds of companies cut back on their YouTube ad-buys, after learning that their advertisements were being displayed on controversial content. 

While many advertisers returned to the platform, this time companies are deciding to cut off advertising on the site all together until a real solution is worked out.

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