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M&S pulls Google ads for fear of appearing next to extremists

The bastion of the British high street joins the UK's government and a host of others in suspending its advertising with the internet giant.

M&S joins the Google boycott.
Carl Court, Getty Images

British retailer Marks and Spencer over the weekend became the latest company to remove its ads from Google for fear they'll be snuggled up against extremist content.

M&S joins the British government and banks RBS, Lloyds and HSBC in suspending its adverts from all of Google's platforms in the wake of an investigation by The Times that uncovered advertisements for well-known companies appearing next to YouTube videos made by supporters of extremist groups.

"In order to ensure brand safety, we are pausing activity across Google platforms whilst the matter is worked through," said a spokeswoman for Marks and Spencer in a statement.

Ads appearing alongside YouTube videos generate money for the creator every time they're clicked, meaning that companies could inadvertently be giving money to extremists.

McDonald's, L'Oreal, Audi, the BBC, the Guardian and advertising giant Havas have all pulled their digital ads from Google in the UK.

Google's head of Europe, Matt Britten, reportedly apologized at a conference on Monday, according to the Guardian. "Clearly we need to do more," he said.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.