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Google’s Blocklist Full of Questionable Holes

Turns out Google’s YouTube blocklist of so-called hate terms was permeable, allowing many slogans to seep through. 

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Last week, The Markup reported that Google’s YouTube blocklist of so-called hate terms was as permeable as cheesecloth, allowing many slogans to seep through.

  • Among 86 “hate-related” phrases tested, only 18, like “KKK,” were blocked.
  • The terms “White power” and “blood and soil” all suggested millions of videos.

And The Markup also found that the blocked terms had very easy work-arounds. Add a space or collapse phrases, and you could buy against “WhitePride.”

On top of this, marketers who wanted to advertise against “Black Lives Matter” or “Black Power” couldn’t. YouTube also blocked “Black Excellence,” “LGBTQ,” and “Say Their Names.” So creators using these terms can’t earn ad revenue.

“The most important thing to identify is not the discrepancy within keywords,” Claire Atkin, cofounder of Check My Ads, told Marketing Brew. “It’s the fact that they’re using keywords at all.”

Google has since corrected most of these issues, although it still blocks social justice terms.

“To block against some keywords but not others...is just bad business,” Atkin said. “It’s incompetence more than evilness.” — RB

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