Whitehall pauses YouTube ads over ‘inappropriate’ content pairings

Written by Jim Dunton on 17 March 2017 in News

Cabinet Office summons Google to answer concerns over video-sharing subsidiary

Ministers have suspended official government advertising on the video-sharing website YouTube after it emerged that some campaigns were being inappropriately – if inadvertently – paired with extremist content. 

The decision, confirmed by the Cabinet Office, follows similar concerns from other advertisers including newspaper The Guardian.

Problematic content that government advertising was placed alongside is understood to have included footage created by North American white supremacists and hate preachers.

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The advertising hiatus is expected to last until YouTube's parent company Google provides assurances that the problems will not be repeated.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said digital advertising was a cost-effective way for the government to engage millions of people in vital campaigns, such as military recruitment and blood-donation – but said reassurance was required about the context in which adverts would appear.

“Google is responsible for ensuring the high standards applied to government advertising are adhered to and that adverts do not appear alongside inappropriate content,” she said.

“We have placed a temporary restriction on our YouTube advertising pending reassurances from Google that government messages can be delivered in a safe and appropriate way.

“Google has been summoned for discussions at the Cabinet Office to explain how it will deliver the high quality of service government demands on behalf of the taxpayer.”

The Cabinet Office has its own YouTube channel, which features videos of ministerial speeches, committee hearings and advice on topics from completing an honours nomination to promoting voter-engagement.

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