In what seems like an increasing trend, several big brands have pulled out of advertising on certain YouTube channels after learning of their controversial content. InfoWars is the centre of debate this time around, with Acer, Alibaba, Fox, Nike and Paramount all ditching the channel upon learning of its strange and dangerous habit of peddling conspiracies.
The decision to retreat from advertising against InfoWars and its respective channels came following an exposé conducted by CNN. One of the many sister channels, the ‘Alex Jones Channel’, has already racked up one strike against YouTube’s policy for its video titled “David Hogg Can’t Remember His Lines in TV Interview” claiming that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims were actually “crisis actors.”
Most companies claim to have placed exclusion filters to prevent their content from going up against questionable channels such as InfoWars, rendering them ignorant when it actually happens. The ones that were aware of InfoWars were surprised at just how many channels are under the one banner.
One of the main concerns about this incident is how InfoWars managed to slip through the cracks of YouTube’s filters. The video platform declined to comment on the matter specifically, instead stating how it intends to “uphold free expression” despite the controversial nature of the channel, although it did emphasise how it doesn’t allow advertisements on videos specifically featuring “sensitive and tragic events.”
The companies are now left trying to recoup advertisements costs and take better control over where their advertisements end up. Non-profit USA for UNHCR has removed its advertisements from YouTube entirely so as to avoid future confrontation.
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KitGuru Says: It must be truly hard to define what is and isn’t offensive, no matter how well YouTube’s policy outlines objectionable content. The real concern for advertisers now, however, is how reliable the platform is as well as its control over what ads end up where.