Google’s cash for hate: They still don’t get it!

Anger as boss says ter­ror­ists make ‘pen­nies, not pounds’ from ad­verts Web gi­ant re­fuses to say it’ll hire staff to root out vile con­tent

Daily Mail - - News - By Kather­ine Rush­ton Me­dia and Tech­nol­ogy Editor

‘They can af­ford to do far more’

GOOGLE bosses finally apol­o­gised for fi­nanc­ing hate yes­ter­day – but sparked fresh anger by say­ing the sums in­volved were ‘pen­nies not pounds’.

In an­other day of shame for the tech­nol­ogy gi­ant, it tried to down­play the im­pact of ad­verts placed along­side ex­trem­ist videos on its YouTube web­site – which make money for their cre­ators.

And in a move which an­gered MPs, Google re­peat­edly re­fused to say whether it would ac­tively root out vile con­tent.

Matt Brit­tin, the firm’s Euro­pean boss, told a London advertising con­fer­ence yes­ter­day: ‘I want to start by say­ing sorry. We apol­o­gise when any­thing like that hap­pens. We don’t want it to hap­pen and you don’t want it to hap­pen, and we take re­spon­si­bil­ity for it.’

But he added: ‘I’ve spo­ken to ... some brands that are af­fected. In gen­eral I’ve found that it has been a hand­ful of im­pres­sions and pen­nies not pounds.’

House­hold names and Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments have been hor­ri­fied af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion found their ad­verts run­ning along­side YouTube videos by Is­lamic State preach­ers and white su­prem­a­cists.

Google, whose motto is ‘Don’t be evil’, hands a slice of the rev­enue gen­er­ated by ad­verts to the user who posted the con­tent.

Ac­cord­ing to in­de­pen­dent mar­ket­ing ex­perts, ex­trem­ists have made around £250,000 from advertising on YouTube.

The no­to­ri­ous Egyp­tian cleric Wagdi Ghoneim’s YouTube chan­nel has raised £63,500 af­ter be­ing watched 31mil­lion times.

MPs re­acted fu­ri­ously to Mr Brit­tin’s mealy-mouthed mea culpa, say­ing: ‘This apol­ogy from Google doesn’t go far enough.’

Yvette Cooper, Labour chair­man of the home af­fairs se­lect com­mit­tee, said: ‘They still don’t seem to have wo­ken up to the se­ri­ous­ness and tox­i­c­ity of some of the videos they are still host­ing and their own re­spon­si­bil­ity to deal with that. They need to say whether they will be pay­ing back any of that advertising rev­enue, and to an­swer our ques­tions on what more they are do­ing to root out ex­trem­ism or il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity.

‘It isn’t enough for Google to re­spond only when their advertising rev­enues take a hit.

‘They are one of the big­gest and most pow­er­ful com­pa­nies on the planet. They can af­ford to do far more, far faster.’

The ad­ver­tis­ers’ trade body, ISBA, agreed that Google’s apol­ogy fell short, say­ing: ‘Let us be clear, it has not gone far enough.

‘What­ever Google’s edi­to­rial pol­icy, advertising should only be sold against con­tent that is safe for brands and if it is serious about tack­ling this it needs to in­crease its en­force­ment and sup­port ca­pa­bil­i­ties ur­gently.’

It added that Google should stop sell­ing advertising space on YouTube un­til it can guar­an­tee brands that it is ‘safe’. Mean­while, Google bosses yes­ter­day tied them­selves in knots to dodge ques­tions about whether the firm will pay staff to ac­tively look for of­fen­sive videos.

Ex­ec­u­tive Peter Bar­ron ad­mit­ted last week that the web gi­ant does not em­ploy a sin­gle per­son to root out hate speech on YouTube. But yes­ter­day Mr Brit­tin re­fused to con­firm this, or to say whether Google would con­sider hir­ing staff to look for ex­treme con­tent.

In a far­ci­cal episode at the AdWeek Europe con­fer­ence, he ducked the ques­tion four times – ei­ther ig­nor­ing it or chang­ing the sub­ject. He said three times that Google was re­view­ing its poli­cies, the ‘con­trols’ it gives to ad­ver­tis- ers and its ‘en­force­ment’ prac­tices. But he stub­bornly re­fused to say whether this might in­clude staff to proac­tively find hate videos.

Cur­rently, users can flag in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­tent them­selves.

Google bosses have al­ready been hauled into the Cab­i­net Of­fice and given a dress­ing down over the scan­dal. The firm places ad­verts us­ing com­puter al­go­rithms rather than hu­man judg­ment. Users post­ing videos on the site take a cut of rev­enue worth up to £6.15 for ev­ery 1,000 views.

Pres­sure on Google grew last night as Go Ape, which runs as­sault cour­ses, be­came the lat­est brand to boy­cott YouTube ad­verts. In all, more than 250 firms have blocked advertising with Google, in­clud­ing Volk­swa­gen, Tesco, Toy­ota, Heinz and ITV, which all an­nounced sus­pen­sions yes­ter­day. They fol­lowed Marks & Spencer, Chan­nel 4, HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, McDon­ald’s, L’Oreal, Audi, the BBC, O2, Royal Mail and Domino’s. The Gov­ern­ment has also sus­pended its YouTube ad­verts.

Lord Best, chair­man of the Lords’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­mit­tee, said he believed Google had the tech­nol­ogy to ban­ish hate speech from its plat­form if it wanted to.

Google and Face­book should be forced to ap­ply the strictest pri­vacy con­trols and age set­tings as de­fault, peers have claimed.

The tech­nol­ogy gi­ants have been ‘drag­ging their feet’ over child con­trols, and should be forced to sign up to a code of con­duct, the House of Lords’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­mit­tee said. This would make child- friendly con­tent fil­ters stan­dard, and stop the firms gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion about users’ lo­ca­tions with­out per­mis­sion.

Far­ci­cal: Matt Brit­tin yes­ter­day

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