Pullout of Advertisers from Google Highlights Problem of Extremist Content on YouTube

Google Apology Underscores Need to Address Pervasiveness of Extremist Content Online

(New York, NY)The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) today released a new report examining Google’s counter-narrative efforts, as controversy continues to swirl over ad placement on Google-owned YouTube.

U.K. officials demanded to know Friday why ads for taxpayer-funded services such as the Royal Navy and the BBC were appearing next to extremist videos on YouTube. Since then, a number of major retailers and advertising firms have either pulled their ads or have threatened to do so. Google has apologized and promised in the coming weeks to give brands a greater say over where their ads appear.

In Anwar al-Awlaki: Tracking Google’s Counter-Narrative Program, CEP examines Google’s February 2016 pledge to divert users away from radicalizing and extremist content towards anti-radicalization material by getting the “bad stuff” down and making counter-narrative material “more discoverable” in searches.

CEP found that the “bad stuff”—including lectures by Awlaki—have been consistently, and even increasingly available on YouTube. On December 19, 2015, a search for “Anwar al-Awlaki” on YouTube yielded 61,900 results. By February 3, 2017, this number had risen to 71,400. As CEP research shows, Awlaki—the first U.S. citizen targeted by a U.S. drone strike (September 30, 2011)—has been found to play an influencing role in dozens of U.S. and European terrorism-related cases.

To explore CEP’s report, Anwar al-Awlaki: Tracking Google’s Counter-Narrative Program, please click here

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