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YouTube being opened on a phone. Photo: Omar Marques/LightRocket via Getty Images

Some of the country's biggest advertisers are yanking their ads from YouTube after a YouTube blogger posted a video highlighting how some posts on the platform have comments that discuss sexualizing young children.

Why it matters: Google-owned YouTube has faced several advertiser boycotts over the years in response to reports about ads showing up next to harmful or offensive content. Most of these conflicts have eventually been resolved, but each one adds to an ongoing narrative that big tech services, and YouTube in particular, are not good places for established companies to run ads.

The latest: YouTube's most recent ad boycott started a few days ago, but became big news Thursday when AT&T, the second-largest U.S. advertiser, said it would pull its ads from YouTube over the controversy.

  • It's a big deal because AT&T had previously withheld its ads from YouTube for two years and then just returned to the platform in January.
  • At the time, AT&T's Chief Brand Officer Fiona Carter said in an interview with the New York Times that AT&T tested to ensure the company was 100% confident that YouTube "met the standards that we were aiming for."
  • But now, AT&T says the platform is not meeting that standard. "Until Google can protect our brand from offensive content of any kind, we are removing all advertising from YouTube," an AT&T spokesperson said Thursday.

Between the lines: AT&T follows other major brands like Disney, Hasbro, Nestle, and Epic Games who have all said in the past few days that they would remove their ads from YouTube in light of the controversy.

A YouTube spokesperson says that any content, including comments, that endangers minors “is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube.”

  • The company says is taking immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos that include minors.

The big picture: YouTube has faced several ad boycotts over the years. The biggest was in 2017, after leaders in the ad industry pressured advertisers to boycott YouTube over extremist videos.

  • Other platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have also faced advertiser boycotts after reports have surfaced about troubling or controversial content.

Yes, but: Advertisers often return after these walkouts. For example, Google said just a few months after the 2017 YouTube boycott that most of the advertisers that removed their campaigns had returned. Procter & Gamble, the country's largest ad spender, ended its YouTube ad boycott after over a year in 2018.

  • Our thought bubble: Advertisers eventually return to these companies because their scale enables them to target potential customers very efficiently. This boycott is likely to end no differently.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

3 killed, 2 wounded overnight in Kenosha bar shooting

Three people died and two others were hospitalized with serious injuries after a gunman entered bar in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, the police department said in a statement on Sunday.

The latest: Officers arrested a "person of interest" Sunday afternoon in connection with the 12:42 a.m. shooting and there's "no threat to the community at this time," per a later police statement.

Updated 43 mins ago - Sports

Big European soccer teams announce breakaway league

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (L) after striking the ball during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between Liverpool F.C. and Real Madrid at Anfield in Liverpool, England, last Wednesday. Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

12 of world soccer's biggest and richest clubs announced Sunday they've formed a breakaway European "Super League" — with clubs Manchester United, Liverpool, Barcelona Real Madrid, Juventus and A.C. Milan among those to sign up.

Why it matters: The prime ministers of the U.K. and Italy are among those to express concern at the move — which marks a massive overhaul of the sport's structure and finances, and it effectively ends the decades-old UEFA Champions League's run as the top tournament for European soccer.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats settling on 25% corporate tax rate

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The universe of Democratic senators concerned about raising the corporate tax rate to 28% is broader than Sen. Joe Manchin, and the rate will likely land at 25%, parties close to the discussion tell Axios.

Why it matters: While increasing the rate from 21% to 25% would raise about $600 billion over 15 years, it would leave President Biden well short of paying for his proposed $2.25 trillion, eight-year infrastructure package.

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