Mars, Adidas and Lidl among brands that have pulled ads from YouTube in light of paedophilia fears

A series of big brands have paused spend on YouTube

Mars, Adidas and Lidl are among a number of top brands that have pulled spend on YouTube in light of a recent Times investigation which claimed ads were being served against "inappropriate" and "exploitative" content featuring children.

The content examined in the report was legal and had mostly been posted in innocence by children themselves. The footage includes young girls filming themselves in underwear, doing the splits, brushing their teeth or rolling around in bed.

However, this content is easily exploited by paedophile networks who are said to post messages and links to one another and make predatory observations in the comments section underneath the videos.

Investigations by the BBC and the Times found tens of thousands of "predatory" accounts have been used to leave explicit comments on children's videos.

The Times report found that BT, Adidas, Deutsche Bank, eBay, Amazon, Mars, Diageo and Talktalk were among dozens of brands whose adverts appeared on the videos.

Upon publishing the report, the Times said Diageo, HP, Cadbury, and Adidas were among those to freeze YouTube spend, calling the situation "completely unacceptable".

Further brands are following suit, including Mars, Lidl and Deutsche Bank.

A spokesperson from Mars told Sky News: "We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content. It is in stark contrast to who we are and what we believe.

"We have taken the decision to immediately suspend all our online advertising on YouTube and Google globally.

"We have stringent guidelines and processes in place and are working with Google and our media buying agencies to understand what went wrong.

"Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on You Tube and Google."

Meanwhile sportswear manufacturer Adidas told Sky News that it was in urgent talks with YouTube and would suspend all its advertising until the issue had been resolved.

It said: "Adidas takes this issue very seriously and were completely unaware that this situation had arisen on YouTube today.

"We will work with our media agencies and directly with Google to ensure that all future programmatic media buying is closely monitored and everything is done in the future to avoid any reoccurrences of this situation."

Deutsche Bank said in a statement: "We take this matter very seriously and suspended the advertising campaign as soon as we became aware of it.

"As always, our digital marketing agency applied filters to prevent our advertising appearing alongside inappropriate content and we are investigating how the situation arose."

YouTube said on Friday (24 November) it is working "urgently" to demonitise such content.

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