YouTube ads from over 300 companies and organizations — including government agencies — run on channels promoting issues shockingly out of the mainstream, like Nazis, white nationalists, pedophilia, conspiracy theories, and North Korea propaganda, CNN reported.
Companies that might have unknowingly tossed ad dollars at the extremists include Adidas, Amazon, Cisco, Facebook, Hershey, Hilton, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Netflix, Nordstrom, and Under Armour, CNN reported.
Taypayers might be kicking into the kitty as well; ads from five government agencies like the Department of Transportation and Centers for Disease Control also appeared on the extremist channels, CNN reported.
"YouTube's bottom line hasn't been hit," Nicole Perrin, a senior analyst at eMarketer who covers advertising and marketing technology, told CNN.
"If brands want to make sure this stops, the only way for that to happen is for them to stop spending [on YouTube] until it's fixed."
Many of the companies said they were unaware their ads had been placed on these channels. One, Under Armour, is pausing its advertising buy on the platform after CNN notified the company its ads appeared on a white nationalist YouTube channel called "Wife With A Purpose."
"We have strong values-led guidelines in place and are working with YouTube to understand how this could have slipped through the guardrails. We take these matters very seriously and are working to rectify this immediately," a spokesperson told CNN.
YouTube says it has over a billion users, and every day those users watch a billion hours of video, CNN noted.
"We have partnered with our advertisers to make significant changes to how we approach monetization on YouTube with stricter policies, better controls, and greater transparency," a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement.
"When we find that ads mistakenly ran against content that doesn't comply with our policies, we immediately remove those ads," she added. "We know that even when videos meet our advertiser friendly guidelines, not all videos will be appropriate for all brands. But we are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right."
According to CNN, YouTube channels with 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months can apply to make money from ads. Monetized channels are given a portion of YouTube's ad revenue from the ads running on their videos.
Earlier this year, YouTube restricted which channels can generate revenue from advertisements, part of its broader effort to "prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing," the Verge reported.
But YouTube has gotten heat over controversial videos that are monetized for years: in 2015, major companies' ads appeared on ISIS videos, and last year, some advertisers pulled their ads after YouTube placed them on videos that included hate speech and extremist content.
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