Google has pledged to crack down on “offensive” and “hateful” content, after numerous companies withdrew advertisements from YouTube, citing their appearance next to “extremist” videos.
In a blog post, Google announced their intentions to remove advertisements from videos that attack people “based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories,” as well as to launch new tools for companies to advertise only on content that aligns with their views.
“Recently, we had a number of cases where brands’ ads appeared on content that was not aligned with their values. For this, we deeply apologize,” wrote Google’s Chief Business Officer, Philipp Schindler, in an official blog post. “We know that this is unacceptable to the advertisers and agencies who put their trust in us. That’s why we’ve been conducting an extensive review of our advertising policies and tools, and why we made a public commitment last week to put in place changes that would give brands more control over where their ads appear.”
“I wanted to share that we’ve already begun ramping up changes around three areas: our ad policies, our enforcement of these policies and new controls for advertisers,” he continued. “We know advertisers don’t want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values. So starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories. This change will enable us to take action, where appropriate, on a larger set of ads and sites.”
“We’ll be hiring significant numbers of people and developing new tools powered by our latest advancements in AI and machine learning to increase our capacity to review questionable content for advertising,” Schindler claimed. “In cases where advertisers find their ads were served where they shouldn’t have been, we plan to offer a new escalation path to make it easier for them to raise issues… In addition, we’ll soon be able to resolve these cases in less than a few hours.”
The British Government, the BBC, The Guardian, and Channel 4 all backed out of YouTube advertising this month, following concerns that their adverts were appearing on “inappropriate” and “highly offensive” content.
Earlier this month, the UK Home Affairs Select Committee also attacked Google for being too “soft” on “hate speech.”
“The committee directed most of their intense scrutiny towards Google in regards to videos posted on YouTube that are ‘peddling hate,’ according to Labour MP Chuka Umunna,” wrote Breitbart News contributor Jack Hadfield, last week. “Focusing on videos uploaded by the ex-KKK leader David Duke and the now proscribed extremist organization National Action, Umunna accused Peter Barron, the vice president of communications and public affairs at Google Europe of profiting off of these videos, along with allowing the individuals themselves to make money as well.”
After Labour Party MP and chair of the committee Yvette Cooper also attacked YouTube for not censoring “hateful” videos, Barron defended free speech, explaining that the flagged videos did not violate YouTube’s terms of service.
“Tending towards a more pro-free speech line, Barron said that while the statements were ‘anti-Semitic, deeply offensive and shocking,’ he insisted that they didn’t ‘meet the test for removing under our guidelines. We are in favor of free speech and access to information,'” Hadfield reported.