YouTube has killed ads from 2 million videos in past week over disturbing kids’ content

YouTube advertisers are fleeing en masse for the second time this year — this time, over having their ads appear with disturbing videos targeted at kids.

In the past week alone, YouTube says it has removed ads from nearly 2 million videos and more than 50,000 channels “masquerading as family-friendly content,” a spokeswoman said in response to our inquiry Tuesday. And that’s not all: YouTube has also killed hundreds of accounts and removed more than 150,000 videos in the past week, she said, confirming a report by Vice News.

The news follows recent reports of disturbing content on some children-focused YouTube channels, made possible by the dangerous combination of algorithms and people’s sick minds.

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Advertisers that have pulled their ads come from all over — they include Diageo, Mars, Hewlett-Packard, Deutsche Bank, according to a Financial Times report last week.

A similar thing happened in the spring, when advertisers fled from YouTube and other Google offerings because they didn’t want their ads showing up alongside extremist content. Multinational brands pulled ads that were appearing with homophobic and anti-Semitic videos, or videos featuring former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke or supporting terrorism. One report estimated that Google lost hundreds of millions of dollars during that exodus.

Last week, YouTube vowed to work harder to take action on disturbing content aimed at children.

“Across the board we have scaled up resources to ensure that thousands of people are working around the clock to monitor, review and make the right decisions across our ads and content policies,” Johanna Wright, vice president of Product Management, wrote in a blog post.

She said YouTube, for example, “will be growing the number of experts we work with” as it explores how to better treat content that may not be suitable for children.

YouTube, owned by Google and the world’s largest video-sharing site, surfaces related videos. Recent reports have described how kids can be watching perfectly normal YouTube videos one minute and disturbing content the next, such as when “things take a drastic turn when Elsa and Spider-Man arm themselves with automatic weapons,” according to Mashable. Writer James Bridle earlier this month published an in-depth piece exploring how YouTube’s system, designed to reap maximum ad revenue, has given rise to the disturbing videos kids are watching.

In addition, some people are leaving sexually explicit comments on videos aimed at kids, and some YouTube flaggers recently complained that the company’s tool to report such abuse has been broken for more than a year, the BBC reported.¬†YouTube is turning off commenting on videos where it finds lewd comments — it has done so for more than 625,000 videos in the past week, the company spokeswoman told us Tuesday.


Photo by AP


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  • Dani (Deb)

    If youtube is NOT for kids then why are they allowing kids as young as 7 on the site and many are 7-12 and the young teens?

  • Denise Arbuckle

    Is YouTube Kids really not for kids? I only allowed my daughter to have access to it because I thought the whole point of having a kids’ version of YouTube was so that kids wouldn’t be able to access inappropriate content.

  • Stan

    I was watching a vid about cute baby animals with a 6 year old. About half way through it,some black guy in the vid comes on and starts dropping F bombs. I could have wrung his neck.