In reports that a pervasive network of pedophiles works in comments from YouTube videos by children, several large companies have paused their ad campaigns. AT&T and toy machine Hasbro has now become the latest advertisers to follow, CNBC reported Thursday.
A spokesman for AT&T told CNBC in a statement that it obtained its ads from the video site until Google, the YouTube parent company, "can protect our brand from some kind of insulting content." Hasbro also told the site that it paused its ad campaigns and added that it had contacted YouTube about the problem.
Grammarly and Fortnite developer Epic Games both said this week that they had come out to the company for answers on how YouTube plans to keep predatory behavior from its site. A Nestlé spokesman told Gizmodo on Wednesday that "all of the Nestlé US companies have paused advertising on YouTube."
The answers follow a YouTube video published Sunday by Matt Watson, describing in detail the disturbing ways in which obvious pedophiles exchange information about videos of minors and especially young girls. Watson found that these people shared contact information and links as well as timestamp videos sometimes where children were shown "in compromising positions."
"Any content – including comments – that threatens minors is abominable and we have clear policies that prohibit this on YouTube," a spokesman for Gizmodo said in a statement on Wednesday. "We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activities to authorities and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos that include minors."
Referring to sources familiar with the matter, Adweek reported on Thursday that YouTube held a conference call with "Representatives from any major advertising agency holding company" and other customers in the wake of recent reports on child exploitation on the platform. Adweek reported that it was talking to a single agency that aroused concern about YouTube's ability to deal with the problem, especially given that this is not the first time the company has been forced to confront this issue.
A spokesman for YouTube said this week that the company had removed hundreds of accounts linked to commentators on the video in question. In addition to disabling comments on millions of videos of minors, the spokesperson said the company also removed some videos that could give children the risk of predatory behavior.