In a strange turn of events, it seems YouTube managed to flag a Google ad for Chromebooks as inappropriate. At least that is what seems to have been the case for a short period of time before the issue was rectified. It was however, not fixed before someone managed to record the event and post it to - YouTube, of course.
The video below shows a Chromebook ad (for the Chromebook Pixel no less) which had initially been blocked by YouTube along with the confirmation that “this video has been removed for violating YouTube’s policy on spam, deceptive practices, and scams.” Effectively confirming that YouTube did flag the content as inappropriate. There has been no word on the event from Google or YouTube since it happened although this is likely to be seen as an example of the issue surrounding the use of machine learning to decide whether content is appropriate or not. After all, if it is capable of flagging Google’s own content, then it stands to reason that it is capable of flagging other content that might not be considered inappropriate under other circumstances.
Google, and in particular via YouTube, has been on a mission of late to try and stop the spread of in appropriate content via its platform and services. Whether that is inappropriate content targeted at younger users, extremist content, or ads which are not considered suitable for content they accompany. The cracking down on the latter of those, suitable ads, could be partly to blame for this latest situation. As back in April of this year Google did make it clear it will adopt artificial intelligence (AI) solutions as additional means to ensure ‘brand safe’ ads are being displayed alongside videos advertisers would be happy with. This was in response to a situation YouTube found itself in where some brands became less confident in YouTube as an advertising platform following some paid-for ads showing alongside videos promoting content deemed offensive. Whether that underlying technology is exactly what has caused the issue with Google’s own ad being flagged remains to be seen, although it is likely to be a possibility. Below is how the ad should have looked compared to how it did look, as well as the video highlighting the ad being blocked at the time.