Major companies, including McDonald’s, Nestlé, and Epic Games have pulled advertisements from Google’s YouTube over reports of a pedophile problem on the platform.
On Wednesday, Wired reported that many YouTube “videos with tens of millions of views are being inundated with comments by pedophiles, with adverts from major brands running alongside the disturbing content.”
The videos, which reportedly include “children showing their exposed buttocks, underwear and genitals,” and “little girls playing Twister, doing gymnastics, playing in the pool and eating ice lollies” are receiving millions of views, with YouTube making money from advertisements on them.
“Comments beneath scores of videos appear to show pedophiles sharing timestamps for parts of the videos where exposed genitals can be seen, or when a child does the splits or lifts up their top to show their nipples,” Wired explained, adding, “Some of the children in the videos, most of whom are girls, appear to be as young as five.”
Pedophiles have also been making sexually explicit comments about the young children featured in the videos.
In its report, Wired named some of the major companies which had advertisements playing alongside the pedophilic content, including “Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Fortnite, Grammarly, L’Oreal, Maybelline, Metro: Exodus, Peloton and SingleMuslims.com,” as well as Google itself.
In response, many companies pulled advertisements from YouTube.
A Grammarly spokesman told Wired, “We’re absolutely horrified and have reached out to YouTube to rectify this immediately… We have a strict policy against advertising alongside harmful or offensive content. We would never knowingly associate ourselves with channels like this,” while Epic Games, which “paused” its advertising through YouTube, declared, “Through our advertising agency, we have reached out to YouTube to determine actions they’ll take to eliminate this type of content from their service.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Nestlé, McDonald’s, Fairlife, Canada Goose Holdings, Vitacost.com, and GNC Holdings also temporarily stopped running advertisements on YouTube.
“During a conference call with ad buyers on Wednesday, executives at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, YouTube’s parent, sought to assuage concerns by explaining the steps the company has taken to address brand safety problems that have plagued the platform,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “The executives also told ad buyers the company will deliver a timeline in 24 hours outlining new restrictions and product changes, one of the people said.”
Google has struggled with pedophilia on YouTube for years, and in December 2017, the company claimed it would hire “thousands” of human moderators to combat the problem.
In 2017, YouTube removed advertisements from over 50,000 “disturbing” accounts which posed as family-friendly, and in the same year, YouTube was criticized for suggesting “how to have s*x with your kids” to users which were searching for videos.
Instead of eradicating child predators from the platform, Google has focused its efforts on censoring conservative content on YouTube.
A 2018 Pew Research survey revealed that 81 percent of parents allow their children aged 11 or under to watch YouTube videos, despite 61 percent of parents also claiming to have encountered content “unsuitable for children.”