YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to major advertisers last Thursday for not dealing with “offensive” content on the platform.
“The last couple weeks have been challenging for some of you,” said Wojcicki during an hour-long presentation. “I want you to know that we have taken your feedback to heart. We work hard every day to earn our advertisers’ and agencies’ trust. We apologize for letting some of you down. We can, and we will, do better.”
In March, YouTube pledged to crack down on “offensive” and “extremist” content on the platform after hundreds of large advertisers withdrew from the site.
Companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, The BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4, Toyota, McDonald’s, and even the British Government all withdrew adverts from Google-owned sites, including YouTube, claiming to be “deeply concerned” about their ads appearing alongside content on YouTube promoting “hate.”
Google also took heat from the UK Home Affairs Select Committee in March, which claimed the company was being too “soft” on “hate speech.”
Since the numerous incidents, Google has launched a series of “hate speech” workshops for teenagers in the U.K., tweaked their search engine to combat “offensive” content, and even trained computers to become offended in an effort to keep ads off of objectionable content.
YouTube also faced several changes, which may have inadvertently caused even more problems.
In March, dozens of YouTube’s top content creators complained that their videos were starting to be demonetized as a result of the platform’s new advertiser-friendly rules.
The new guidelines imposed by the site meant that content creators who repeatedly used swear words, adult comedy, or delved into controversial subjects such as religion and politics started to make a fraction of the money they made before.
Some content creators announced their departure from the platform in response, moving to sites such as Patreon to replace their income.