The UK's biggest brands blacklisted Google because their ads might appear next to terrorist content

Marks & Spencer, McDonald’s UK, and Lloyds are among the many brands which have now stopped advertising on any Google-owned sites, because of the risk their ads might show up next to terrorist content, according to Sky News.

They are all citing “brand safety” as the reason, which refers to the procedures involved in making sure a well-known brand’s ads don’t appear against violent or hateful content.

None of them are saying their ads have actually appeared against hateful content.

This all comes after a decision by the UK arm of media group Havas to suspend all advertising on Google on behalf of its clients, including O2, the Royal Mail, the BBC, and Domino’s.

The agency made the move after a Times investigation found household brands were inadvertently funding extremism, because their ads were showing next to terrorist content on sites such as YouTube.

These are all the brands which have suspended advertising so far, according to reports from Sky News and City AM. Some of them found their ads appearing next to inappropriate content:

  • M&S
  • HSBC
  • RBS
  • Lloyds
  • Vodafone
  • Havas UK clients – the BBC, O2, Domino’s, the Royal Mail and others
  • The Guardian
  • The UK government
  • McDonald’s UK
  • L’Oreal
  • Audi

Others including Vodafone, Barclays, and Sky are still considering whether to pull their ads from Google, according to The Guardian.

On Friday, Google admitted in a blog post that it could “do a better job” of ensuring households brands weren’t funding hateful content. A source also told Business Insider that Google was meeting the Cabinet Office on Friday.

The CEO of the world’s biggest advertising agency holding company, WPP’s Martin Sorrell, said Google and other major media companies like Facebook “cannot masquerade as technology companies” and needed to take their responsibilities seriously.

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