Brands Flee YouTube as Pedophile Scandal Erupts

YouTube is in hot water again, and they are frantically trying to fix their image with Madison Avenue and major brand marketers.

“The problem: Pedophiles are viewing videos of children, leave disturbing comments and then share links to even worse content in the comments section,” writes Garett Sloane in AdAge. On Thursday, AT&T became the latest brand to say it was taking a break from YouTube after learning of child exploitation.”

This comes after two major scandals in the past two years had brands pulling their ads from the platform.

AT&T pulled no punches, saying via email: “Until Google can protect our brand from offensive content of any kind, we are removing all advertising from YouTube.”

They were joined by Hasbr4o, Disney, Epic Games and Nestlé among others, Sloane notes, setting off a so-called “adpocalypse.” Witty moniker aside, there is nothing cute or funny about what’s going on here.

“The offending videos were exposed earlier in the week by a YouTube personality who has been criticizing the company for months for featuring videos of children that could be construed as sexual,” Sloane continues. “In many of them, children are playing or trying on clothes, and while this could be considered harmless content, the comments sections are filled with child predators sharing links to worse content or directing other pedophiles to moments in the videos.

“YouTube’s algorithm was also suggesting videos that featured children, even when a viewer wasn’t looking for them or only viewed a tangentially related video. Additionally, the search bar autofilled in search suggestions that appeared to be favorite terms of pedophiles,” Sloane adds. “YouTube has said it removed the search terms and is taking offending videos out of suggestions.”

YouTube execs are frantically working to salvage their reputation with the big name brands, calling top ad execs and contacting the folks on Madison Avenue to let them know they are working on a “fix.”

Elsewhere in the digital wasteland, Facebook is drawing fresh ire with the news they have been collecting highly personal data from third-party apps, whether the user has a Facebook account or not.

“According to The New York Times… Parliament denounced Facebook and its leadership as ‘digital gangsters.’  The British are always so damn polite,” writes Bob Sacks in his BoSacks enews.

As BoSacks notes, the news from digital land is all pretty depressing. Personal privacy is a joke, and brand safety is just one wrong click away from disaster. But there’s a bright side, he notes, and it lies in print and the magazine industry.

“It’s not that we can prevent what’s going on digitally. We can’t. But we can be fertile ground for profitability and safety. Print is and should be a shining beacon standing tall among the fraudsters. There are successes in many places for the magazine print industry and billions still being made.” – Bo Sacks

“The irony should escape no one that the nature of our product of off-line media is safe and totally non-intrusive to sharing anyone’s personal secrets,” he continues.

“Let’s use print and thoughtful, thorough journalism to stop, hinder and otherwise mute the digital surveillance network of privacy pirates and not let them distract us from our successes.”

As more of us wake up and embrace digital minimalism, brands will see even less return from digital ads. Print, as BoSacks insists, will shine like a beacon in a sea of digital criminality.