One video of a pre-teenage girl in a nightie drew 6.5 million views.
Some of the world’s biggest brands are advertising on YouTube videos that show scantily clad children that have attracted comments from hundreds of paedophiles, says The Times.
BT, Adidas, eBay, Amazon and Talktalk are among dozens of brands whose adverts appear on the videos, which are published on the Google-owned platform.
Lidl, the German supermarket chain, said it was shocked and disturbed by the revelations that explicit comments had not been removed from videos of young children by Google’s video-sharing site.
Mars removed its ads from both YouTube and Google ahead of one of the busiest shopping days of the year on Black Friday, after details of the videos emerged.
“We are appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content,” Mars said in a statement.
The Times investigation alleges that YouTube does not pro-actively check for inappropriate images of children but instead relies on software algorithms, external non-government organisations and police forces to flag such content.
Many have gained millions of views by showing young girls filming themselves in underwear, doing the splits, brushing their teeth or rolling around in bed.
Most appear to have been posted by innocent children as paedophiles flock to such content by searching for certain keywords in Russian that can bring up hundreds of young Slavic girls.
YouTube had earlier tightened its rules on removing inappropriate content after it emerged that ads from the UK government and big media agencies such as Havas had appeared alongside videos advocating extremism.
Google’s European boss Matt Brittin apologised to advertisers after millions of digital marketing dollars were pulled from YouTube.
Other advertisers criticised Google for failing to identify inappropriate videos after a similar controversy earlier this year.
Brands face a dilemma over how to control their campaigns online, where ads are placed using proprietary algorithms run by Google and Facebook.
YouTube Vice President Johanna Wright explained their five-point plan recently in stepping up enforcement of its guidelines.
Hundreds of thousands of pedophiles targeted children on YouTube, video here: https://youtu.be/PG3wk9H1WEk
A spokesman from Google Malaysia told MARKETING: “Content that endangers children is abhorrent and unacceptable to us. We have clear policies against videos and comments on YouTube which sexualise or exploit children and we enforce them aggressively whenever alerted. We work closely with the Internet Watch Foundation, NCMEC and others to prevent child sexual abuse imagery from ever being uploaded and report it to law enforcement. Of course, we need to do more, both through machine learning and by increasing human and technical resources. Over the past year, we have been working to ensure YouTube is a safe place for brands. While we have made significant changes in product, policy, enforcement and controls, we will continue to improve.”
This piece is culled from reports by The Times, Daily Mail and FT.com in the interest of online brand safety concerns.