Oh YouTube, you sweet insane child. You keep trying to become something other than a den of madness and gaming videos and your community just won’t let it happen.
For those that don’t know this week companies such as AT&T and Johnson & Johnson along with other major US advertising partners have pulled their advertising from YouTube and Google as a whole. Their reason for this is because their ads were featured in content that was considered extremist. Now when I say that I don’t mean a banner ad showed up in an edgy YouTube reviewer video where he yells fuck a lot. No, no I mean it actually appeared in an ISIS support video.
Here's a screenshot of one of the videos we found #googleads https://t.co/3o6fRhsToS pic.twitter.com/4P1gU9crWT
— James Dean (@JamesDeanTimes) March 22, 2017
So yeah, you can see the point when something called “A Family Company” runs the risk of having their image featured next to a video “to ensure our product advertising does not appear on channels that promote offensive content.” According to Johnson & Johnson in a statement made on the subject. The company has announced that they’ve stopped all advertising globally with Google. This situation isn’t limited to YouTube either, banner ads for major advertisers have appeared on extremist websites. However, this is only in the wake of the massive amount of companies in Europe who’ve also pulled funding some of which include the British Government.
The issue has greater ramifications when one considers the YouTube Heroes program which appeared last September to massive scorn as it allowed community members to flag content of contributors. This censorship continued with YouTube’s restricted mode which appeared this month to offer a way to provide child-safe content. In both instances, these new features were met with anger and resistance by the community as a whole citing censorship concerns.
With the Heroes program, it was believed that LGBTQ and interracial content would be flagged by the “Heroes” in the program; while in restricted mode, several LGBTQ channels saw their content disappear despite them arguing there was nothing in that content that was questionable. YouTube replied by stating that this was still a relatively new system and they would be improving upon it.
At the same time, though, these companies still have issues with Google as a whole. Representatives have gone on record stating that the company has not addressed their advertising concerns in the past properly. And while end users are crying censorship as these ads are pulled, this is a rare instance I side with the advertisers.
There’s a difference between advertising and free speech. Google and YouTube provide platforms that allow that. But a company does have a right to decide where their message–that of buying their product–is featured when they invest money into it.
The problem is that so much content goes through Google. The people that abuse the system to put extremist content up are going to find the loopholes and as YouTube tries to keep pace by putting measures in place a lot of innocent content will suffer if the company executes it poorly in a bid to appease advertisers. No, if there is someone who’s in error its Google for not finding a way to manage this system as it grew. The company has a long history of mishandling these issues for both businesses and end users either allowing insane DMCA takedowns to occur or just letting content like this slip through the cracks. The list of changes in search algorithms in Google alone has ended many small businesses so it isn’t surprising that it is systemic of the whole company.
But if the major investors pull out then maybe it’ll be the shake up the company needs to lay down some real improvements and really create a way that businesses and end users can worth together.
And if they don’t… well, we will just have to move to the next platform. We’ve done it before.
Feature image courtesy of Marekfiser.com
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Robert Chase says
I cannot blame YouTube hear. There is so much video content and of course, they must have a terms that is outlined, but for the advertisers to pull so quickly, just does not make sense to me. They are holding YouTube hostage and for what reason?
Troy McCormack says
There is such a fine line. I am not sure which side I could be on without realizing I just stepped over it.
Lonnie Clark says
I guess I am not very well versed in things like this, but I really do not see the big deal. Consumers are not that dumb, are they?
Angie Bailey says
So much going on with all of this ad hype. You know the companies that are pulling time from YouTube have to be putting it somewhere else. These companies cannot afford to leave advertising out there.
Albert Hartsfield says
I have when companies do this. I get that you have to get things in order, but honestly, pulling ads immediately? that just tells me that you didn’t really care where the ads were playing, you just needed ads somewhere. And if the companies are pulling ads from YouTube, where are they going with them, back to TV? HA!
Virginia Carpenter says
it is not good for the creator. if facebook can figure out how to pay their creators, this will change things, A LOT. As soon as the numbers come out and YouTube looks like the fool, there is going to be a major fight and maybe YouTube just gets dumped by Google.
James Aguilera says
This is really bad news for YouTube and honestly, all the creators that are now having to go through and re-learn how to get the attention of YouTube because so much has changed. YouTube just needs to have a better ad categorization algo.
Brent Toothaker says
You got that right. All these years it seemed like it was no big deal and now all of a sudden, the American public gets a thorn in their side and everyone turns into a wussie.
Thomas Thompson says
Well, Google can still be a “family” company without YouTube keeping all of the ISIS crap from being uploaded. There is a bigger problem here and I am sure that Google is not sure how they can take care of it to please everyone.
Casey Wald says
I get it. Keeping track of the millions of minutes of videos online is not easy. HOWEVER, Google should be giving more advertising control to the advertisers. A simple “uncheck” would keep their ad from showing up on the bad videos.