Advertisers ditch YouTube over paedophile concerns

Several major advertisers have frozen spending on YouTube after an investigation revealed their spots were running against videos featuring kids in states of undress and other situations that had drawn comments from paedophiles.

Brands including Adidas, Deutsche Bank, Mars, HP, Diageo, Cadbury and Lidl pulled ads from YouTube over the issue, according to a report in the Times of London.

That came after the newspaper discovered the marketers' ads had run in videos with young girls in underwear, doing the splits, and rolling around in bed - which included sexually inappropriate comments posted by viewers.

According to the report, the videos themselves appeared to be uploaded by kids with no intent to appeal to sexual predators.

In response to the report, YouTube said in a statement: "There shouldn't be any ads running on this content, and we are working urgently to fix this."

It comes not long after widespread reports of wildly inappropriate material showing up on the YouTube Kids app, featuring characters like Peppa Pig and Spider-Man engaging in violent and sexual acts. The controversy has been dubbed 'Elsagate' after the character from Disney's Frozen, who features in many of the strange clips.

Many of the 'Elsagate' clips feature Spider-Man and Elsa using guns.
Many of the 'Elsagate' clips feature Spider-Man and Elsa using guns. Photo credit: YouTube/Hero & Princess

The boycott is a replay of the global advertiser backlash in early 2017 after ads were discovered showing up in terrorism and hate speech videos in a previous investigation by the Times.

Google-owned YouTube has repeatedly vowed to do better, including implementing new screening processes to filter out offensive content from the site, hiring additional staff, and rolling out tools designed to give advertisers better controls and tracking of their ads.

"Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on YouTube and Google," Mars said in a statement to media on Friday.

Deutsche Bank said it suspended advertising on YouTube immediately after becoming aware of the problem.

"As always, our digital marketing agency applied filters to prevent our advertising appearing alongside inappropriate content, and we are investigating how the situation arose," the banking giant said in a statement.

YouTube in recent weeks has said it's cracking down on content featuring themes and characters that appeal to children but include violent, sexual or otherwise inappropriate themes.

Reuters / Newshub.

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