Lidl, Mars, Adidas, Cadbury maker Mondelez, Diageo and other big companies have pulled advertising from YouTube after an investigation found the video sharing site was showing clips of scantily clad children alongside the ads of major brands.
Comments from hundreds of paedophiles were posted alongside the images, which appeared to have been uploaded by the children themselves, according to an investigation.
One video of a pre-teenage girl in a nightie drew 6.5 million views.
The news comes after a shocking investigation revealed earlier today that YouTube ‘s system for reporting sexual comments on children’s videos has not been working for more than a year.
Comments from hundreds of paedophiles were posted alongside the images, which appeared to have been uploaded to YouTube by the children themselves, the investigation found
An investigation by The Times found YouTube, a unit of Alphabet subsidiary Google , had allowed sexualised imagery of children to be easily searchable and not lived up to promises to better monitor and police its services to protect children.
In response, a YouTube spokesman said: ‘There shouldn’t be any ads running on this content and we are working urgently to fix this’.
Last night Adidas, Mars, HP, Diageo, Cadbury, Deutsche Bank, Now TV and Lidl were among the prominent brands that pulled campaigns.
The investigation found BT, Deutsche Bank, eBay, Amazon, and Talktalk also had adverts that appeared next to the inappropriate videos.
According to the investigation there are dozens of them in total, although it does not provide a comprehensive list.
‘We have suspended all of our YouTube advertising with immediate effect,’ the UK arm of Lidl said in a statement in response to the Times investigation.
‘It is completely unacceptable that this content is available to view, and it is, therefore, clear that the strict policies which Google has assured us were in place to tackle offensive content are ineffective,’ a Lidl spokeswoman said.
Lidl (left), Mars (right), Diageo and other big companies have pulled advertising from YouTube after an investigation found the video sharing site was showing clips of scantily clad children alongside the ads of major brands
Diageo said it was deeply concerned and had begun an urgent investigation.
‘We are enforcing an immediate stop of all YouTube advertising until we are confident the appropriate safeguards are in place,’ the company said.
The Times investigation alleged that YouTube does not pro-actively check for inappropriate images of children but instead relies on software algorithms, external non-government organisations and police forces to flag such content.
Earlier today another investigation revealed YouTube’s system for reporting sexual comments had serious faults.
As a result, volunteer moderators have revealed there could be as many as 100,000 predatory accounts leaving inappropriate comments on videos.
Users use an online form to report accounts they find inappropriate.
Part of this process involves sending links to the specific videos or comments they are referring to.
However, an investigation by BBC Trending found that when the public submitted information on the form, associated links were sometimes missing.
Volunteer moderators have revealed there could be as many as 100,000 predatory accounts leaving inappropriate comments (pictured) on videos
Users use an online form (pictured) to report accounts they find inappropriate. Part of this process involves sending links to the specific videos or comments they are referring to
Investigators identified 28 comments that obviously violated YouTube’s guidelines.
According to the BBC, some include the phone numbers of adults, or requests for videos to satisfy sexual fetishes.
The children in the videos appeared to be younger than 13, the minimum age for registering an account on YouTube.
‘There are loads of things YouTube could be doing to reduce this sort of activity, fixing the reporting system to start with’, an anonymous flagger said.
‘But for example, we can’t prevent predators from creating another account and have no indication when they do, so we can take action.’
They estimated there were ‘between 50,000 to 100,000 active predatory accounts still on the platform’.
The investigation came just two days after YouTube announced a crackdown on sexualised or violent content aimed at ‘family friendly’ sections of YouTube.
Johanna Wright, YouTube’s vice president of product management, promised tougher application of its user guidelines, removing inappropriate ads targeting families, blocking inappropriate comments on videos featuring minors and providing further guidance for creators of family-friendly content
The streaming video service removed more than 50 user channels in the last week and stopped running ads on over 3.5 million videos since June, Ms Wright wrote in a blog post.
‘Across the board we have scaled up resources to ensure that thousands of people are working around the clock to monitor, review and make the right decisions across our ads and content policies,’ Ms Wright said.
‘These latest enforcement changes will take shape over the weeks and months ahead as we work to tackle this evolving challenge.’