Several brands and companies, such as Nestle and Disney, have pulled their advertisements from YouTube amid claims of the platform being used as a “soft-core pedophilia ring,” where pedophiles traded information and exploited videos featuring young girls. The videos seem appropriate, featuring girls doing gymnastics or playing with toys, but users have made suggestive comments and emphasized “compromising positions.”
Following online criticisms, YouTube has since taken “immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos that include minors,” according to a YouTube spokesperson. “Any content—including comments— that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube.”
Advertisements for major companies were shown with videos that had these exploitative comments, causing several major brands to pull their advertisements until YouTube and Google, YouTube’s parent company, took further action to remove the inappropriate content. Companies including Epic Games, the maker of the popular game, Fortnite, Nestle, the owner of Kit-Kat and Nespresso, Disney, and McDonald’s have pulled their advertisements.
The online outcry against these pedophilic comments and users rose after video blogger, Matt Watson, posted a 20-minute long video discussing how the video sharing platform was being misused by pedophiles and YouTube’s video suggestions were helping users find videos of young girls.
YouTube has been under fire before for publishing exploitative and predatory videos of children in 2017. These videos featured children in vulnerable scenarios, such as being tied up or kidnapped. After taking down these videos and several users in 2017, YouTube also outlined ways it would try to prevent inappropriate content from thriving under their platform such as disabling comment threads and working with child safety experts.
Media Resources: CNN 2/21/19; The Verge 2/21/19; The Washington Post 2/22/19; Buzzfeed News 11/22/17