The Guardian, AT&T, the UK government and other companies have halted YouTube ads, fearing that they might appear under racist videos. Mark Sweney and Alex Hern infer that this long-standing error allowed prejudiced YouTubers to be indirectly funded by ad agencies. This highlights digital advertisers’ responsibility in monitoring their content. Sweney and Hern also reveal that many companies ended up paying for views from bots. Google is responsible for its online ad placement and needs to make sure that its technology doesn’t fund bigotry.
Every minute 400 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube. Even with modern software it is almost impossible to closely monitor the content of each video. In 2016 almost two billion inappropriate ads were removed. Google has gotten it right most of the time but even their methods aren’t infallible. Ronan Harris, Google UK’s managing director explains that a small minority of cases were affected and usually dealt with quickly. The gravity of this situation has been exaggerated.