Major global brands are unknowingly funding Islamic extremists and white supremacists by advertising on their websites, according to a report.
An investigation by the Times shows that adverts by large companies, universities and charities are appearing on hate sites and alongside YouTube videos run by supporters of terror groups such as Islamic State and Combat 18, a violent pro-Nazi faction.
Those adverts are likely to generate tens of thousands of pounds a month for the extremist groups, according to the paper. An advert appearing with a YouTube video typically earns whoever posts the video $7.60 for every 1,000 views. The most popular extremist videos have more than one million hits.
Big advertising agencies, which frequently place adverts on behalf of their clients, have already faced criticism in the past for pushing brands into online advertising to bolster their own profits.
The Times says that corporations are concerned that they are paying huge mark-ups for digital promotion and receiving “crappy advertising” in return.
And analysis done by the Times shows that blacklists which are designed to prevent digital adverts from popping up next to extremist content, are not working.
The paper says that a YouTube advert for a Mercedes E-Class car, for example, runs next to a pro-Isis video that had been viewed more than 115,000 times.
Similar adverts by companies including Honda, Thomson Reuters, Halifax, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Liverpool University, Argos, Churchill Retirement and Waitrose also appear on extremist YouTube videos, according to the Times.
Many of the companies said that they were unaware of and “deeply concerned” by their presence of their adverts on extremist sites.
Google, the owner of Youtube, told the Times that it had taken down some of the videos after being alerted by the Times.
The Times reported that six top advertising agencies had each denied any wrongdoing.
A Google spokesperson told The Independent: “When it comes to content on YouTube, we remove flagged videos that break our rules and have a zero tolerance policy for content that incites violence or hatred.
Some content on YouTube may be controversial and offensive, which is why we only allow advertising against videos which fall within our advertising guidelines.
Our partners can also choose not to appear against content they consider inappropriate, and we have a responsibility to work with the industry to help them make informed choices."
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