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21 Feb, 2019 04:10

Major advertisers jump ship as YouTube hit with ‘softcore child porn’ scandal

Major advertisers jump ship as YouTube hit with ‘softcore child porn’ scandal

YouTube is in damage-control mode after several large companies, including Disney, Nestlé, McDonalds and Epic Games, pulled ads in response to a report accusing the platform of harboring a pedophile ring hiding in plain sight.

Multiple major corporations have temporarily suspended all YouTube advertising after learning their ads were playing before videos featuring minors as young as five performing sexualized versions of everyday activities. The advertisers were informed by Wired on Wednesday that their ads were playing before videos similar to the clips highlighted in blogger Matt Watson’s video exposé, posted earlier this week. Most responded with shock.

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We’re absolutely horrified and have reached out to YouTube to rectify this immediately,” a spokesperson from advertiser Grammarly told Wired, while a World Business Forum spokesperson declared it “repulsive that pedophiles are using YouTube for their criminal activities.”

Watson’s report, which has been viewed nearly two million times, revealed comment sections packed with hundreds, even thousands of users sharing time-stamps of their favorite moments – usually catching the girls in especially compromising positions – and their contacts on encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, which recently endured its own child porn scandal. Watch one video, Watson claimed, and YouTube’s recommendation algorithm leads you down a pedophilic rabbit-hole. Some of the clips have millions of views.

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We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments,” YouTube told Bloomberg in an email after several major advertisers had already “paused” their ad campaigns upon learning their videos were associated with the offending content. A YouTube spokesperson claimed less than $8,000 had been spent on the videos in the last 60 days and promised to refund the money. 

YouTube also released an updated “Community Guidelines” policy on Tuesday, promising “consistent penalties” for breaking the platform’s rules and a detailed explanation of what kind of content actually breaks those rules.

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