Ads from over 300 mega companies have been running on YouTube channels that promote hate-filled, violent content, including Nazi propaganda, pedophilia, North Korean conspiracy theories and more.
A CNN investigation revealed companies like Adidas, Amazon, Hershey, Hilton, Nordstrom, Mozilla and Netflix, among many other tech giants, newspaper companies and retailers, may have placed their ads on these channels. In fact, taxpayer dollars may have gone into financing these channels as well because ads from U.S. government agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, Department of Transportation, Veterans Affairs, U.S. Coast Guard Academy and Customs and Border Protection, have been found on the channels as well.
Many of these companies said they were unaware their ads were places on such videos and are now investigating the incidents.
All the government agencies have said they were trying to find out how the ads got placed on those channels.
Ads from The New York Times and The Washington Post also appear on extreme right conspiracy channels like Black Pigeon Speaks and others run by Alex Jones’ InfoWars. These companies are also investigating why their ads were placed there.
YouTube channels with 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the last one year can monetize their channels. Companies can target their ads based on demographics and viewers’ behavior and trust YouTube to decide which type of content is inappropriate for their ads. They can also exclude certain channels with extreme or sensitive content.
The social media giant did not say how the recent issue occurred but companies are now concerned whether YouTube can guarantee their brand’s integrity. In the past, when such incidents occurred, companies suspended their ads on YouTube but later resumed them. It’s a difficult decision to stop advertising on YouTube altogether since it has more than 1 billion users, who watch over a billion hours of videos every day.
“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,” a YouTube spokesperson told CNN. “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.”
This isn’t the first time YouTube has come under fire for showing unrelated, inappropriate content on its users’ channels. Earlier this year, YouTube Kids app sparked controversy after violent content and conspiracy theory videos were found in its related content section.
YouTube claims it is taking measures to address inappropriate content on its site. In January, it placed restrictions on video uploaders who could make money from ads. It also said it would review all its most popular videos.
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