YouTube, What Part Of Terror And Paedophilia Confuses You?

What was YouTube thinking? Or rather, what was it not thinking? How can it be caught again so publicly not protecting its users -- and by association, its advertisers? To borrow from Oscar Wilde, to provoke one boycott is unfortunate, to provoke two is downright careless.

There is a part in all of us that gets where YouTube is coming from in all this. It was hard for it to know when somebody had posted an extremist video online, and it has since tightened its scrutiny. But today we're talking about protecting our children, and the US tech giant has been found to be falling way short after The Times found predatory remarks were being left up under innocent videos of children.

Then the BBC ran a story that it had discovered that the reporting tools for raising concerns about such comments were not working properly. The corporation had raised concerns about many accounts, to test the system, and they were only deleted several days later when the journalists revealed they were investigating the issue for the BBC. The system clearly wasn't working.

Now we have the revelation that this predatory action had caused YouTube's search autocomplete service to suggest the most vile searches for its users. 

Remember, all this comes just months after a who's who of digital advertising ditched the channel over revelations that it was placing their ads next to extremist videos that not only harmed their brands, but also meant they were inadvertently funding terror. 

Today Netimperative brings us the latest big names to join a growing list of household names topped by BT, Adidas, Deutsche Bank, eBay, Amazon, Mars, Diageo and Talktalk. 

It is little wonder that we have Sky calling on the European powers that be to take Google and YouTube to task, alongside other US tech giants, for disseminating fake news, allowing hate and extremist content to spread across the web and for not even paying their proper fair share of UK or EU tax as they do so.

The case against Google and YouTube is compelling, and the boycott list is growing. However, in a couple of months, you can rest assured enough will be said about algorithms and human checkers to appease brands and things will go back to normal. 

The uncomfortable truth about YouTube and Google is they appeal to SMEs who want to set up an ad campaign with a couple of clicks of the mouse. Sure, the big guys are there too -- but not in the same way as they dominate mainstream news media advertising or television spots. That's why YouTube could walk through its last debacle with revenue actually up. A mass boycott was nothing more than a temporary blip on its revenue chart that just keeps on going up and up. This slip-up on predatory comments will, I suspect, simply be a repeat. 

But for those of us who have long been arguing, like Sky today, that our governments have to take firmer action against the US tech giants, this can only be yet another point to drive home an inconvenient truth. If you're talking about giants that soak up the vast majority of digital marketing budgets and don't protect users, you've got another strong argument to run alongside the very simple overriding point. If these guys are set up in London, employing lots of staff in London and sell ad space to UK businesses that is being consumed by UK people, can they really claim they do business through some low-cost tax haven and not the very capital city they are set up in?

At some point, somebody in government has to grow a spine and not just leave it to the advertisers to call the occasional temporary boycott. 

Next story loading loading..