Google to broaden hate speech guidelines after YouTube boycott

A number of brands and advertisers, including Marks & Spencer and the United Kingdom government, have boycotted Google's platforms after it was revealed that their adverts were appearing alongside homophobic and xenophobic content, such as YouTube videos from Britain First.

In the blog post published today, Philipp Schindler, Google's chief business officer, said the company will more aggressively police content that targets or harasses people "based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories".

The changes follow a revelation in the United Kingdom last month care of The Times newspaper that YouTube ads were appearing against videos from former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke and other extremist figures.

In his blog post, Schindler explained that Google is now revamping its ad policies and implementing new controls for advertisers. More than 250+ brands have since pulled support and prevented their ads from appearing on YouTube and Google Display Network.

The BBC, The Guardian and Channel 4 have also withdrawn advertising on all Google platforms for this reason.

"Google is responsible for ensuring the high standards applied to government advertising are adhered to and that adverts do not appear alongside inappropriate content." a spokesperson for the government stated.

From Tuesday, Google says it will take a "tougher stance" on hateful, offensive, and derogatory content.

More than 250 firms including HSBC, Toyota and Heinz have suspended spending on its video platform after seeing their ads appearing next to hateful videos by white nationalists, anti-Semites, banned preachers and fundamentalists. "Google aspires to "moonshots" so why not pursue a moonshot to get to zero instances here?" For large marketers, even one ad placed next to extremist content can cause harm to a brand, he said.

"We have 400 hours of video uploaded onto YouTube every minute which is an extraordinary amount of content", he said on March 14. Britain has been the second largest market for Google after USA and hence it can not afford to have such a setback in their services to the major clients who are generating revenue for them.

Their action does not only end with ads on YouTube, but affects Google search as well. A company representative admitted that it had not enough staff to manage Google website. But the complexity of ad exchanges and a lack of oversight have made it harder for them to control where their ads appear. It will offer procedures so advertisers can better choose where their ads are seen, and where they are not. Additionally, Google is hiring "significant numbers of people" and harnessing Artificial Intelligence to boost its ability to assess questionable content.