Disney, Nestle and “Fortnite” maker Epic Games have paused advertising on YouTube after reports of a pedophile network rampant in the comments of monetized videos.
Sara Salinas of CNBC.com had the news:
The controversy stems from reports that pedophiles have latched onto videos of young children, often girls, marking time stamps that show child nudity and objectifying the children in YouTube’s comments section. The move is a familiar black eye for Google-owned YouTube, which frequently battles content moderation challenges and is losing market share of the digital advertising industry. The platform has come under fire before for selling ads against offensive and extremist content.
A Nestle spokesperson confirmed, “All Nestle companies in the U.S. have paused advertising on YouTube.”
“We have paused all pre-roll advertising,” said a spokesperson from Epic. “Through our advertising agency, we have reached out to Google/YouTube to determine actions they’ll take to eliminate this type of content from their service.”
Disney did not immediately return requests for comment.
Mark Bergen, Gerrit De Vynck and Christopher Palmeri of Bloomberg News reported that YouTube plans to refund the money spent on ads:
On Sunday, Matt Watson, a video blogger, posted a 20-minute clip detailing how comments on YouTube were used to identify certain videos in which young girls were in activities that could be construed as sexually suggestive, such as posing in front of a mirror and doing gymnastics. Watson’s video demonstrated how, if users clicked on one of the videos, YouTube’s algorithms recommended similar ones. By Wednesday, Watson’s video had been viewed more than 1.7 million times.
“Any content—including comments—that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments,” a spokeswoman for YouTube said in an email.
Total ad spending on the videos mentioned was less than $8,000 within the last 60 days, and YouTube plans refunds, the spokeswoman said.
Julia Alexander of The Verge reported that YouTube deleted the channels and videos:
Although predatory behavior has been an issue on YouTube for some time, many of these new videos came to light, thanks to Watson’s video. Watson demonstrated that searching for something like “bikini haul” can often lead to exploitative videos of children. Comment sections are full of predators timestamping certain parts of a video that sexualizes children in the scene. These videos aren’t pornographic in nature, but they are circulated among the platform between predators. Watson’s video quickly circulated online, and a lengthy post on Reddit remained on the front page for several hours.
A YouTube spokesperson previously told The Verge, “We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments” when asked about Watson’s video. A YouTube spokesperson told The Verge the statement hasn’t changed since. The Verge has reached out to Disney for comment, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.
“Any content — including comments — that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube,” the spokesperson said. “There’s more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly.”