Several large companies have suspended their ad campaigns on YouTube since last Friday after learning their advertisements had been displayed on videos that appear to sexualize children.
By distancing themselves with YouTube, the companies pointed to the seeming inability by the video platform to police content so their advertisements do not appear together with offensive videos.
The companies pulling their ads included Lidl the Germany supermarket chain, Deutsche Bank, Adidas, Mars and Diageo, which is the producer of Smirnoff vodka and Crown Royal Whiskey amongst other brands.
This suspension of ads came in response to last week’s article in the Times of London that said the ads by the companies had appeared on videos that show children in different stages of undress.
Some of those videos featured young girls taking videos of themselves while wearing underwear, brushing their teeth, doing splits and rolling on the bed, according to the article in Times of London.
While some of those videos appeared as though children themselves had uploaded them, the comments were filled with remarks of a sexual nature including statements that encouraged the children to perform different sexual acts.
A spokesperson for Mars said that the company had been shocked as well as appalled that its advertisements had appeared with such inappropriate and exploitative content.
A Lidl spokesperson called the content completely unacceptable and that the policies on YouTube were ineffective.
The video platform, owned by Google, said that it forbids any videos or comments sexualizing children. The platform’s official policy says that posting that type of content will result immediately in the termination of an account.
One of the videos received over 6.5 million views with advertisements for large brands running with the video.
A spokesperson for YouTube said that no ads should run with the content in question and YouTube is urgently working to fix it.
The vice president for product management at YouTube Johanna Wright said the company would take more of an aggressive stance against videos that are aimed at harming or sexualizing minors.
However, policing content as well as ensuring advertising does not run together with offensive clips continues to be a long-existing problem for the platform.
In March, a similar statement was released by YouTube, when several companies such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Dish Network, Walmart, General Motors and Starbucks stopped their advertising with YouTube after they learned their advertisements ran with videos that featured anti-Semitic and racists content.