Why companies are pulling their ads from YouTube in a boycott

A Wired story released on Thursday managed to find videos where "users exchanged phone numbers with the promise of sharing more videos via WhatsApp", Epic Games told Wired that they had "paused all pre-roll advertising on YouTube".

In a video that has been viewed almost 2 million times since its release Sunday, video blogger Matt Watson detailed how users who visit YouTube for bikini shopping videos can eventually be nudged to watch videos featuring young girls.

"All Nestle companies in the US have paused advertising on YouTube", a spokesperson for the food company told CBS MoneyWatch.

YouTube declined to comment on any specific advertisers, but did state that, "any content - including comments - that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube".

However, YouTube admits there is still "more to do done" and it continues to work to improve and "catch abuse more quickly".

YouTube addressed the issue in reply to YouTuber Philip DeFranco's video on the subject, where they claimed that they have terminated over 400 problematic channels - and even reported certain commenters to the authorities.

While YouTube has said it deletes hundreds of millions of comments every quarter that violate its guidelines, the lewd remarks on otherwise innocent videos were not flagged.

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.

"Youtube's recommended algorithm is facilitating pedophiles' ability to connect with each-other, trade contact info, and link to actual child pornography in the comments", Watson wrote.

Many of these videos were also accompanied by adverts placed by major brands such as Nestlé, Fortnite and Disney.

YouTube also said it removed dozens of videos that were posted without malicious intent but were nonetheless putting children at risk.

The decision to pull ads comes after a blogger explained how YouTube comments were being used to help build a "soft-core pedophilia ring".

The platform has been struggling to combat child exploitation content despite investment in new technologies such as CSAI Match tool and hiring more experts to do so.

Disney and YouTube did not immediately return requests for comment.

In response, many companies pulled advertisements from YouTube.

  • Kara Saunders