Global tech giant Google has been under fire for its ad policies, where many big brands pulled out their advertisements from its platform because they were placed beside extremist and offensive content that promote terrorism. Google in a blog said that from now it will provide advertisers more control over the content that gets posted, not only on YouTube but also other places like the search engine results. The move by Google comes after there was increased pressure not only from the Guardian but also the UK government who had called the company for an explanation on policing of content, especially on YouTube. This issue surfaced after an investigation by the Times of London where it wrote about many ads from big corporations having being placed alongside web content from white nationalist David Duke and pastor Steven Anderson, known for praising the killing of 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Ronan Harri, Managing Director, Google (UK), in the blog wrote: “We believe strongly in the freedom of speech and expression on the web—even when that means we don’t agree with the views expressed.” He added, “At the same time, we recognise the need to have strict policies that define where Google ads should appear. The intention of these policies is to prohibit ads from appearing on pages or videos with hate speech, gory or offensive content. In the vast majority of cases, our policies work as intended.” He also said that Google invests a huge amount of money every year to stop bad advertising. Last year, it had removed almost 2 billion advertisements and more than 1 lakh publishers from Google’s AdSense program so that it could prevent ads from being showcased on more than 300 million videos on YouTube.
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It was alleged by The Guardian and the likes that their ads reportedly appeared alongside extremist and hate-filled videos on YouTube. Meanwhile, the government has issued an order to suspend all ads on the website unless Google ensures that the related content has been removed. After The Guardian, even channel 4 and BBC has reportedly removed their ads. Google, meanwhile, said that it had ‘strict guidelines’ about the ad placements but conceded ‘we don’t always get it right’.
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Google, in the blog, said, “We’ve heard from our advertisers and agencies loud and clear that we can provide simpler, more robust ways to stop their ads from showing against controversial content.” The company said that it has started a thorough review of the ad policies and brand controls, and they will be making changes in the coming weeks. It added, “While we have a wide variety of tools to give advertisers and agencies control over where their ads appear, such as topic exclusions and site category exclusions, we can do a better job of addressing the small number of inappropriately monetized videos and content.”