UK Government Pulls Youtube Ads Amid Extremism Concerns


"Google is responsible for ensuring that the high standards applied to government advertising are adhered to and that ads do not appear alongside inappropriate content, " a government spokesman told the Times.

"It is totally unacceptable that taxpayer-funded advertising has appeared next to inappropriate internet content-and that message was conveyed very clearly to Google", a United Kingdom government spokesperson wrote.

In a blog post published Friday, Google said it had "heard from our advertisers and agencies loud and clear".

The move follows a number of brands in the United Kingdom and Australia being found to be unwittingly placing ads next to ISIS, white supremacist and pornographic content. This method usually works well, given YouTube's existing filters to exclude certain types of videos, but apparently not well enough for many advertisers.

An investigation by the Times showed that ads for blood donations and military recruitment, paid for by taxpayers, are earning money for video bloggers with extremist views at a rate of about £8 ($10) every thousand views.

Ads for the Guardian's membership scheme are understood to have been placed alongside a range of extremist material after an agency acting on the media group's behalf used Google's AdX ad exchange, which uses programmatic trading. It has prompted the video-sharing company into a "thorough review of our ads policies and brand controls".

A senior Google executive in the United Kingdom acknowledged the controversy in a blog post on Friday, saying the company does its best to ensure that client ads aren't published alongside offensive content.

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The U.S. company said in a blog post Friday it would give advertisers more control over where their ads appear on both YouTube, the video-sharing service it owns, and the Google Display Network, which posts advertising to third-party websites and against search engine results. Britain's government said it summoned Google for discussions to explain how it can guarantee the state's demands are met.

Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP chief executive, added: "We have always said Google, Facebook and others are media companies and have the same responsibilities as any other media company".

The dodgy advertising placement was spotted by The Times, which found government ads running alongside YouTube videos of a hate preacher banned in the United Kingdom, rape apologists, anti-Semites and white nationalists in the US.

In addition to former Klan leader Duke, the ads were used alongside content from far-right party Britain First and an organization of Polish nationalists, as well as a smattering of religious extremists and controversial hate preachers.

Harris said 400 hours of video was uploaded to YouTube every minute, adding that a year ago Google removed almost two billion "bad ads" from its systems, removed over 100,000 publishers from its AdSense programme and prevented adverts from serving on over 300m YouTube videos.

Nicklin said the Google Adwords platform meant "just about anyone who wants to can put an ad out", and these ads can easily be manipulated with changes to the code that will see them pass through most systems - Google's and the Guardian's included.