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Google promises to do better after government pulls ads

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Taxpayers funded extremists through online advertising

In a statement provided to Business Insider on Thursday, following the Guardian pulling its ads, Google said it has "strict guidelines" that define where ads should appear and in the majority of cases, those policies work as intended. Advertisers are unhappy that their ads have been placed next to extremist content and hate speech, and Google says it will improve the controls advertisers have over ad placement.

Channel 4, BBC, Boots and Smart Energy GB ads appeared on videos by preacher Wagdi Ghoneim, who allegedy called Osama Bin Laden a "martyr hero majahid, while videos from former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard David Duke received money from Transport for London, HSBC, Armani and the Financial Conduct Authority's marketing material".

Ads by the Home Office, the Royal Navy and national news outlets, such the Guardian and BBC, appeared on Google's video hosting service YouTube on videos of USA white nationalist David Duke and homophobic pastor Steven Anderson, among others.

A United Kingdom government spokesman told the Guardian that the government had put a hold on any advertising with Google or YouTube, and that a Google representative had been "summoned for discussions" to explain the situation and its proposed remedy.

British supermarket chain J Sainsbury, whose ads appeared on videos posted by the white nationalist Polish Defence League, said it and its sister brand Argos would immediately suspend all Google advertising. It pretty much explains why you always get to see related ads on YouTube and other websites.

Google, which has been attacked by MPs for not doing more to curb online hate speech, said it would review controls.

Last month, the ministry identified 17 YouTube videos with content it said distorted historical facts, incited national hatred or was pornographic and would be illegal in Vietnam. Last year, it had removed nearly 2 billion advertisements and more than 1 lakh publishers from Google's AdSense program so that it could prevent ads from being showcased on more than 300 million videos on YouTube.

It's unclear if Google and YouTube will police content more because of these incidents, but other social media outlets, including Twitter, have banned and suspended users in the past due to hateful and extremist content. "Google has been summoned for discussions at the Cabinet Office to explain how it will deliver the high quality of service government demands on behalf of the taxpayer".

Google allocates adverts against content using its automated advertising systems, free from human judgement.

The Guardian, who noted that the problem was coming from advertising placed through Google's AdX service, was not the only organization to make that decision. Google is expected to continue these talks next week with the United Kingdom government in a follow-up meeting.

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