Disney is the latest to pull YouTube ads after child exploitation discovery

Ruben Fields
February 21, 2019

The report also finds that these videos are often monetised by YouTube, as they are in many cases accompanied by pre-roll and banner ads from major companies.

The video highlighting the comments, posted by YouTube creator Matt Watson (also known as MattsWhatItIs) and viewed 1.75 million times since it went up on Sunday, accused YouTube of "facilitating the sexual exploitation" of children. They are mostly innocent videos of young girls playing, doing exercises in their family home, or taking part in gymnastics. The issue is in the comments section, where YouTube users have left sexually provocative messages and shared tips on when to pause the videos to take compromising still images of the children.

"I can confirm that all Nestlé companies in the USA have paused advertising on YouTube", a Nestlé spokesperson told Gizmodo in a statement by email.

"Any content, including comments, that endangers minors is abhorrent, and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube", the representative said.

A YouTube spokesperson told CNN it took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels and reported illegal activity to law enforcement. "There's more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly".

The controversy stems from the discovery that certain videos on YouTube that target or feature children have been subjected to predatory comments. Pre-roll ads are the advertisements which play before a video starts.

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Watson explained that a search for something like "bikini haul", which is where female YouTubers show various bikinis they have purchased, can lead to related "exploitative" videos of children. "Additionally, I have video evidence that these videos are being monetized by Youtube, brands like McDonald's, Lysol, Disney, Reese's, and more". Numerous brands that boycotted YouTube, including Procter & Gamble Co. and AT&T Inc., have since returned to buying ads on the site.

"Over the past 48 hours I have discovered a wormhole into a soft-core pedophilia ring on Youtube", Watson wrote in the description of the video, which has already racked up almost 2 million views.

The above-mentioned companies are deciding to pull their ads from YouTube because the controversial videos involving young girls, ran right next to ads placed by them.

In the wake of the revelations, Disney suspended its advertising spending on YouTube, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.

YouTube has since spoken out on the matter, with a spokesperson claiming, "when we find content that is in violation of our policies, we immediately stop serving ads or remove it altogether".

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