Todd Spangler, reporting for Variety:
AT&T, one month after it thought it was safe to advertise on YouTube again, said it is pulling all advertising spending from the world’s biggest video platform. The telco joins a boycott by marketers alarmed by the discovery that a secret group of child predators has been using YouTube to make sexual comments about kids. […]
The issue — the latest “brand safety” scandal for YouTube — was exposed by vlogger Matt Watson in a Feb. 17 video. Watson discovered that YouTube’s algorithms enabled child predators to secretly connect across a series of videos with young girls engaged in everyday activities like gymnastics, stretching or hanging out at home. In those videos, members of what Watson called a “soft-core pedophilia ring” made sexualized comments about the girls tagged with timestamps identifying moments in the videos when the kids were in certain poses. The users in some cases traded child pornography in the comments section, he claimed.
Other marketers that have dropped spending with YouTube over the scandal include Disney, Epic Games, Hasbro, McDonald’s and Nestlé.
I thought maybe this controversy was overblown, but I watched Watson’s exposé and it is as awful as it sounds. I take issue with describing the group as “secret” though — they were (are?) operating in the open, under YouTube’s nose. They’re just using YouTube comments and YouTube’s algorithms are “helpfully” linking these videos together.