Ads from over 300 companies as well as different organizations have run on YouTube on channels that promote extremist content, including Nazi and white nationalist ideas, conspiracy theories, pedophilia as well as North Korea propaganda.
The news comes from an investigation carried out by CNN, which discovered that companies like Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Adidas, Mozilla, Under Armour and Nordstrom were all affected.
Five government agencies in the U.S. also had ads runs next to extremist videos. Religious organizations as well as some film studios also had ads runs on the extremist videos.
Many companies that were affected said they were not aware that their ads were placed on those types of videos and were determining why the ads had been placed there.
When companies place an ad with YouTube, their ads can be targeted based upon user demographics and behavior. They can block specific channels as well as choose a filter known as “sensitive subject exclusion.” That should prevent any ads from appearing on specific channels.
YouTube has announced that it wants to work with its advertisers in controlling inappropriate content, but failed to address how the most current issues had occurred.
This isn’t the first time businesses have had their ads placed with extremist content. In 2017, hundreds of different companies reduced their ad-buys on YouTube after it came to light that their ads had been displayed on content that was very controversial.
However, following that incident, as well as others that took place very similar to it, advertisers came back to put their ads on the video platform.
The huge user base at YouTube and the billions of hours of video watched daily makes it an important platform to advertise on.
Some companies, this time, like Under Armour have said they will stop their advertising with YouTube until they are able to make a determination about what happened.
Under Armour, through a spokesperson, said that the company has strong values-led guidelines it uses and are working with the people of YouTube trying to understand how this problem took place and was not caught by someone or something.
YouTube took steps earlier this year to address the extremist issue on its site. During January, it changed its rules to restrict which makers of videos are able to earn money through ads and also announced that it would have people make reviews of all the site’s most popular videos.