AT&T halts its advertising on YouTube over content ‘promoting terrorism and hate’

This post has been updated.

Google has just been hit with some powerful pushback against content that appears on YouTube.

AT&T said March 22 it had stopped advertising on all Google platforms except for search.

“We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate,” the company said in a statement emailed to USA Today. “Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms.”

British media were reporting March 22 that Verizon, car rental firm Enterprise and pharmaceuticals giant GSK also pulled non-search ads from Google platforms.

“Verizon’s advertisements were appearing along side videos made by Wagdi Ghoneim, an Egyptian cleric who had been banned from the US over extremism, and Hanif Qureshi, whose teachings inspired the assassination of a Pakistani politician,” the BBC reported.

And with regard to the controversial YouTube content, Britain, also, is not amused.

Its government, along with cosmetics giant L’Oreal, car firm Honda, The Guardian newspaper and others who advertise on Google’s YouTube were distressed to learn that their ads were matched on the video-streaming app with extremist and offensive content.

“We have placed a temporary restriction on our YouTube advertising pending reassurances from Google that government messages can be delivered in a safe and appropriate way,” the British government said in a statement, according to CNN.

Advertisements from well-known brands “ended up attached to videos by extremists, including hate preachers and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke,” The Guardian online newspaper reported.

L’Oreal said it was “horrified” that its ads had shown up beside “extreme” and “negative” material, CNN said.

The cosmetics firm did not describe exactly what “immediate action” it was taking to remedy the problem, but Google “has found itself at the center of a British storm in recent days after major companies from supermarkets to banks and consumer groups pulled their adverts from its YouTube site after they appeared alongside videos carrying homophobic and anti-Semitic messages,” Reuters reported.

Alexi Mostrous, investigations chief at Britain’s The Times newspaper, tweeted that other companies pulling ads from YouTube because of the content included VW, Toyota, Volvo, Heinz and U.K. supermarket chain Tesco.

The outrage and ad-yanking that greeted the results of The Times’ probe pushed Google to respond — and it appears the company may go beyond keeping advertisers happy, to put heavier restrictions on YouTube content.

“We know advertisers don’t want their ads next to content that doesn’t align with their values,” Google’s chief business officer Philipp Schindler said in a blog post March 21. “So starting today, we’re taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content.

“This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories.”

Schindler hinted at tighter controls in general over YouTube’s content.

“We won’t stop at taking down ads,” he said. “The YouTube team is taking a hard look at our existing community guidelines to determine what content is allowed on the platform.”

Google has a big job ahead if it plans to live up to its tougher stance — according to Reuters, more than 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.


Photo: Technology workers outside at Google’s campus in Mountain View (Bay Area News Group)


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  • VaultDweller73

    Hey look,, no one’s here.