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Google promises better divide between ads, hateful content

After advertisers complained of appearing next to videos made by extremists, Google vows to revamp ad policy "starting today."

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YouTube is adding new tools for advertisers to better control where their content appears.

Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Google is taking steps to prevent ads from appearing next to hateful content.

In a blog post Tuesday, Philipp Schindler, Google's chief business officer, vowed to improve the controls and policies that keep ads from appearing alongside potentially offensive YouTube videos and other content.

"Starting today, we're taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content," he said. "This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is attacking or harassing people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories."

The move follows complaints by UK companies, including Marks and Spencer, McDonald's, L'Oreal, Audi, the BBC and the Guardian, who all pulled their ads from Google in the UK. They feared their ads would appear next to YouTube videos made by supporters of extremist groups.

For example, one British government ad was reportedly used with videos of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

The changes announced by Google Tuesday include new tools for advertisers to better control where their content appears, and "safer default settings," according to Schindler's post. A YouTube spokesperson said none of the changes are about removing offensive content itself from YouTube.