'Abhorrent': Advertisers Bail On YouTube After Pedophiles Flood Platform's Comment Section

Epic Games pulls Fortnite YouTube ads over child predator concerns

Epic Games has made a decision to suspend pre-roll ads on YouTube after commercials were seen on videos within a "network of pedophiles".

Nestle, McDonald's and other major companies have yanked their ads from YouTube over concerns that pedophiles allegedly used certain videos on the platform to trade information and bring attention to young girls in the comments section.

After watching a few such videos on a new YouTube account, Watson described how the site's algorithm - created to provide users with content they might like, to keep them watching - would serve up endless videos of apparently underage children where the comments section contained inappropriate comments.

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The videos pedophiles targeted apparently did not violate the company's rules, but the content became overrun with lewd remarks directed at the children, many of them young girls doing gymnastics or playing Twister, the report notes. Today, the company announced that they will be pausing advertising on YouTube following reports of a pedophile network actively engaging the comments section of monetized videos.

The Google-owned service has also disabled the comments on tens of millions of videos featuring minors and reported the discovered illegal comments to law enforcement, a YouTube spokesperson told PCMag. "There's more to be done, and we continue to work on improve and catch abuse more quickly".

Disturbing and predatory comments on YouTube videos of children resulted in a similar response from advertisers in 2017.

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A CNN investigation in April 2018 found that advertisements for more than 300 companies and organizations ran on YouTube channels promoting white nationalists, Nazis, pedophilia, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda.

YouTube users who clicked on videos of young girls engaged in what could be viewed as a sexually suggestive activity like gymnastics were then given recommendations by YouTube's algorithms to similar video clips, blogger Matt Watson said in a 20-minute video posted Sunday that has been viewed almost 1.8 million times. Pre-roll ads are the advertisements which play before a video starts. Comment threads - which are often not in English - include people exchanging WhatsApp numbers with the promise of sharing more content off YouTube. After searching specific terms and clicking a few videos, his entire recommended section was filled with videos of children, and almost all of these videos had inappropriate comments beneath them.

It's clear that there's more to be done by YouTube. Bloomberg cited sources who claimed Disney has followed suit, though the company did not immediately return a request for comment.

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