A report from Bloomberg this week reveals that big companies are apparently pausing or pulling their ads from YouTube. This is apparently a result of reports that have come out that the comments section of some videos on the platform are being used to spread links to pedophilia videos.

YouTuber Matt Watson in a lengthy 20-minute video first brought the matter of a “soft-core pedophilia” ring being facilitated on YouTube. In the video, he explains how some users are using YouTube’s comments to identify certain videos and timestamps that show mostly young girls in sexually suggestive positions. Further, he demonstrated that after those videos are clicked a few times, YouTube’s recommendation algorithm will continue to find similar ones.

Once it was discovered these videos were monetized and ads were appearing on them, companies then started pulling or pausing their campaigns on the platform as a whole. Bloomberg says that both Disney and Nestle have pulled their ads from appearing on videos. Gizmodo further points out that Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite, as well as Grammarly have both reached out to YouTube regarding the matter.

Update 2/22: YouTube has since confirmed to Engadget that it is proactively demonetizing videos which are prone to predatory comments. As noted on Twitter, this doesn’t mean that the videos themselves are unsuitable for advertisers, but rather that they could trigger the inappropriate comments. It doesn’t seem like this is a permanent policy.

Further, companies pulling their ads now also include AT&T and Hasbro.

A YouTube spokesperson also commented on the situation with the following statement:

Any content – including comments – that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos that include minors. There’s more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly.

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