Several major companies stopped buying advertisements on YouTube after their ads appeared on videos where pedophiles littered the comment sections, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The videos pedophiles targeted apparently did not violate the company’s rules, but the content became overrun with lewd remarks directed at the children, many of them young girls doing gymnastics or playing Twister, the report notes. Commenters sometimes posted suggestive comments asking whether the kids were wearing underwear.
“Any content, including comments, that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube,” Chi Hea Cho, a spokeswoman for YouTube’s parent company, Google, told reporters. “There’s more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly.”
Epic Games, GNC and Nestlé’s, among others said they removed advertising on the platform after YouTube creator Matt Watson posted a video highlighting the issue and accused the company of “facilitating the sexual exploitation” of children. YouTube’s recommendation feature directs many potential pedophiles to similar videos, Watson noted in the video, which has received more than 1 million views as of Wednesday.
“When we learned of this issue, we were, and still are, absolutely horrified and reached out to YouTube to rectify this immediately,” Senka Hadzimuratovic, a spokeswoman for the online grammar tool Grammarly, told reporters. “We have a strict policy against advertising alongside harmful or offensive content and would never knowingly associate ourselves with channels like this. It goes against everything our company stands for.”
YouTube disabled comments on tens of millions of videos featuring kids and removed thousands of offensive comments on similar content, Cho said. The company also removed hundreds of YouTube channels for comments their users left on videos and reported the incidents to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The incident comes less than a year after YouTube admitted that some of their moderators might have mistakenly removed thousands of accounts.