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Marks and Spencer pulls its Google advertising over extremist material concerns

PUBLISHED: 16:27 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 16:27 20 March 2017

Marks and Spencer Norwich store. Photo : Steve Adams

Marks and Spencer Norwich store. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

Marks & Spencer has pulled its adverts from Google following concerns that they were appearing alongside extremist content.

The high street giant said it is “pausing activity across Google platforms”, which includes the video-sharing site YouTube.

The move comes after the US tech firm was accused by MPs last week of “profiting from hatred” over its advertising system, which saw both company and taxpayer-funded adverts appear alongside extremist material.

An M&S spokesman said: “In order to ensure brand safety, we are pausing activity across Google platforms whilst the matter is worked through.”

M&S joins the likes of HSBC, Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, the BBC and McDonald’s in withdrawing its ads.

The Cabinet Office said it has placed a temporary restriction on its YouTube advertising “pending reassurances from Google that Government messages can be delivered in a safe and appropriate way”, while the Guardian and Channel 4 have also halted their advertising with the firm.

Google’s advertising network uses an automatic filtering system which places adverts on websites and videos.

The internet giant’s UK managing director, Ronan Harris, has admitted the company “can and must do more” to combat what it called “bad advertising”.

“We’ve begun a thorough review of our ads policies and brand controls, and we will be making changes in the coming weeks to give brands more control over where their ads appear across YouTube and the Google Display Network.

“With millions of sites in our network and 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we recognise that we don’t always get it right.

“In a very small percentage of cases, ads appear against content that violates our monetisation policies,” he said.

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