Google promises tougher stance on hateful content amid advertising row

Reuters reports that brands including Marks & Spencer, HSBC, the BBC, and McDonald's pulled ad content from Google sites in the United Kingdom after promotions appeared alongside YouTube videos featuring hate speech, gore, and other offensive content.

On the policy front, Google said that it would be taking a 'tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content, ' which would include removing more videos as well as making them ineligible for ad revenue.

As reported by TechCrunch, Google has been working to appease advertisers by "expanding controls" which will give them more say over where ads appear on Google Display Network and YouTube.

Update: Here is Google's comment on AT&T's decision.

A government spokesperson said today: "It is totally unacceptable that taxpayer-funded advertising has appeared next to inappropriate internet content - and that message was conveyed very clearly to Google". For this, we deeply apologize. Finding this balance will be key if Google wants to reassure brands that have pulled advertising from the tech company's platforms, including Audi, HSBC and the BBC, that it's able to keep its own house in order.

"We'll be hiring significant numbers of people and developing new tools powered by our latest advancements in AI and machine learning to increase our capacity to review questionable content for advertising", Schindler wrote.

United States telcos AT&T and Verizon, vehicle rental company Enterprise and pharmaceutical giant GSK have all pulled their advertising, the UK's The Times is reporting.

The issue was first raised in an investigation by The Times, which revealed that YouTube failed to remove videos featuring United States white nationalist David Duke and homophobic pastor Steven Anderson, as well as other hate speech figures, which allowed their uploaders earn advertising revenue.

The apology follows various companies discovering their advertising spend was being used to place adverts next to YouTube videos that featured ISIS, white supremacist and pornographic content.

The company plans to introduce new tools for its advertisers to use to help them better control when and where their ads show up. The company will tighten its default settings too so that ads are shown against content "that meets a higher level of brand safety".

  • Zachary Reyes