This is a trending story. It comes with a TRIGGER WARNING. The video below is 21 minutes long, contains profanity, and suggestive pictures.
Videos of children showing their exposed buttocks, underwear and genitals are racking up millions of views on YouTube – with the site displaying advertising from major cosmetics and car brands alongside the content.
Comments beneath scores of videos appear to show paedophiles sharing timestamps for parts of the videos where exposed genitals can be seen, or when a child does the splits or lifts up their top to show their nipples. Some of the children in the videos, most of whom are girls, appear to be as young as five. Many of the videos have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of views, with hundreds of comments.
A spokesperson for Fortnite publisher Epic Games said it had paused all pre-roll advertising on YouTube. “Through our advertising agency, we have reached out to YouTube to determine actions they’ll take to eliminate this type of content from their service,” the spokesperson added. A World Business Forum spokesperson said it found it “repulsive that paedophiles are using YouTube for their criminal activities”. A Peloton spokesperson said it was working with its media buying agency to investigate why its adverts were being displayed against such videos.
YouTube says that it’s 99 per cent effective at ensuring that adverts only appear on appropriate content and that it takes every instance of ads showing up where they shouldn’t very seriously.
But with a blank YouTube account, and a couple of quick searches, hundreds of videos that are seemingly popular with paedophiles are surfaced by YouTube’s recommendation system. Worse still, YouTube doesn’t just recommend you watch more videos of children innocently playing, its algorithm specifically suggests videos that are seemingly popular with other paedophiles, most of which have hundreds of thousands of views and dozens of disturbing comments. Many include pre-roll advertising.