Google expands YouTube ad safeguards amid extremist video outcry

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Google has published an expanded plan of action for specific changes it is initiating in response to a growing crisis in the UK over extremist content on YouTube.

The media storm has led the government and a host of big companies such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Tesco, Marks and Spencer and ad agency Havas to freeze their YouTube ads in the UK over the past week.

Here’s a breakdown of the expanded safeguards that Google will roll out in coming weeks to pacify its advertising customers:

First, the company is re-writing its ad policies to make it tougher for videos on YouTube to be monetized through advertising.

Previously, Google’s ad policies focused on content that was inciting violence, but it will now expand to focus on broader issues like incendiary and derogatory language, based on attributes such as gender, religion and so on.

“This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories,” wrote Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer.

“We’ll also tighten safeguards to ensure that ads show up only against legitimate creators in our YouTube Partner program – as opposed to those who impersonate other channels or violate our community guidelines.”

Next, the company has introduced additional controls for advertisers to manage exactly where their ads appear on YouTube and across other Google services. To start with, Google will make the default controls more conservative, excluding sexually suggestive content for instance.

It will also allow brands and agencies to manage their controls on an account level. This means rather than having to state their preferences for every campaign they run on YouTube, they can set controls just once for all the campaigns they ever run on the channel.

Finally, Mr Schiller promised that Google would be “hiring significant numbers of people” to enforce the notice-and-takedown process, and also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to speed up the review of questionable content for advertising. “We’ll soon be able to resolve these cases in less than a few hours,” he said.

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