YouTube ads hate speech blocklist is 'inconsistent' and barely applied

Occurred: April 2021

YouTube's blocklist of hate terms is inconsistent, blocks only a fraction of hate terms, and is mostly not applied.

According to The Markup, Google’s YouTube blocklist of hate terms is inconsistent and highly permeable, allowing advertisers to target people in terms such as 'white lives matter' and 'white power' but blocking them from running ads against terms such as 'Black Lives Matter. 

It also found that less than a third of the 86 hate-related terms tested were blocked.

Google later said it had blocked additional terms associated with hate speech from being used as ad keywords on YouTube videos. The company said it does not publicly state how it develops its enforcement tools so that bad actors are less likely to game its system.

The episode raised questions about Google's commitment to user safety, and the extent to which it permitted the monetisation of hate content to boost its own profits. 

Operator: Alphabet/Google/YouTube
Developer: Alphabet/Google/YouTube
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Identify & block offensive ads
Technology: Advertising management system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race
Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: April 2021