Following the uproar over child videos on YouTube, many companies are pulling their ads from the platform.
The firms include big names such as Disney, Nestle, Fortnite creator Epic Games, and German packaged-food producer Dr. Oetker.
YouTube Softcore Child Porn
As reported by Bloomberg, the aforementioned companies have "paused," "postponed," and "withheld" spending after their ads have been found to run in said videos.
The discovery of this issue is credited to video blogger Mark Watson, who posted a clip that demonstrated how YouTube was being turned into a "softcore pedophilia ring." Particularly, he illustrated how the comments were being used to timestamp parts of these videos where young, underage girls are doing things like gymnastics. To make matters worse, YouTube's algorithm provides recommendations of similar videos once a user views one of them.
It's also worth mentioning that Epic Games has confirmed to The Verge that it has paused all its pre-roll advertising.
"Through our advertising agency, we have reached out to Google/YouTube to determine actions they'll take to eliminate this type of content from their service," the gaming company told the news outlet.
According to a spokesperson of the video platform, accounts and channels have been deleted and comments have been disabled. They also said that any illegal activity has been reported to the authorities.
"Any content — including comments — that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments," they told Bloomberg.
YouTube has promised to refund all the ad spending that appeared on the videos, which amounted to less than $8,000 in total within 60 days.
This isn't the first time that something like this happened. Back in 2017, advertisers such as Mars and HP pulled out of the platform over comments in exploitative child videos, some of which were teeming with predatory comments. During the same year, U.S. carriers AT&T and Verizon also halted their advertising activity on the platform over terrorism and hate videos.