Popular Teen and Pre-Teen Site YouTube Still Infested With Videos for Illegal Prescription Drugs and Steroids, Stolen Credit Card Numbers, Fake Passports and Content Theft

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 10, 2014 at 1:41 p.m.



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-- WITH PHOTO -- TO BUSINESS, NATIONAL, AND TECHNOLOGY EDITORS:

Digital Citizens Alliance Calls On Google To Stop Profiting From

Illegal Activities; Investigation Finds Bad Actors Are Back In

Business With YouTube

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The Digital

Citizens Alliance today called on Google to stop profiting from a

myriad of illegal and dangerous activities that take place on

YouTube. Those activities include the marketing of illegal

prescription drugs and steroids, fake passports, stolen credit cards,

and content theft.

Digital Citizens made public its investigative report, "Digital Weeds:

How Google Continues to Allow Bad Actors to Flourish On YouTube," that

shows how YouTube is still infested with hundreds of videos promoting

dangerous and illegal activities - nine months after Digital Citizens

first showed ads running next to some of YouTube's most dangerous

videos. And just as troubling, both Google and the bad actors profit

from advertising running along on the same YouTube page as these

videos.

In many of the latest examples Digital Citizens discovered, ads from

some of America's best-known companies were running next to videos

pushing access to dangerous products.

"Google has to start acting like the great company they claim to be

and make Internet safety a priority," said Tom Galvin, Executive

Director of Digital Citizens. "When confronted with this issue last

summer, Google scrubbed YouTube of thousands of incriminating videos

to stop the criticism. Not surprisingly, the videos are back. I'll say

what I said nine months ago - the company that claims 'don't be evil'

is its credo has to stop treating this as a PR problem and end its

relationship with the bad actors who peddle dangerous drugs, stolen

credit cards and Fake IDs."

Click here to see the report, a short video on how Google makes its

money, as well as new polling results showing Americans' growing

concerns about how Google does business.

In June 2013, Digital Citizens demonstrated countless examples of

videos on YouTube that promoted the sale of prescription drugs such as

Oxycontin, Percocet and Tramadol. In addition, the report, entitled,

"Google, YouTube and Evil Doers: Too Close for Comfort," demonstrated

how bad actors promoted the sale of forged passports and drivers

licenses, escort services and prostitution, counterfeits and content

theft. Google responded to the public criticism by immediately

removing the videos while claiming their systems worked.

New Poll Shows Americans' Concern with Google is Growing

A Digital Citizens Alliance national survey released today reinforces

how the public is looking to Google to do more to protect Internet

users:

-- The majority of Americans (57 percent) said Google should not post

ads or accept ad revenue from sites that are providing illegal or

illegitimate products or services.

-- By a 26-point margin (53 percent-27 percent) Americans don't

believe that Google is doing enough to make the Internet a safer

place.

-- 88 percent of Americans agreed with the statement "As a nearly $40

billion business, Google has a responsibility to help make the

Internet safe."

-- Americans don't feel very safe online. Less than one in five (18

percent) said they feel "very safe" online, compared to 65 percent who

feel "very safe" in their neighborhood, shopping at stores or walking

to local parks.

Digital Citizens commissioned Axis Research to conduct the poll. Axis

Research surveyed 1,006 voters by phone across the United States from

February 19-23, 2014; 32% of all interviews were conducted via cell

phones. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Details from "Digital Weeds" Report

In its "Digital Weeds" investigation, Digital Citizens researchers

search YouTube again for some of the same videos promoting illegal or

dangerous activities found during research in 2013.

These subject areas include:

Prescription Narcotics: Digital Citizens found hundreds of videos

promoting the sale of illegally acquired prescription drugs. One video

promoting where to buy Oxycontin and Roxicodone without a prescription

had an ad promoting the 2014 Winter Olympics right next to it. In

another case an ad for the Discover Card is flanked next to a video

offering the stimulant Adderall and other drugs.

Stolen Credit Card Numbers: Financial fraud and ID theft are a scourge

and growing threat to Internet commerce. Yet on YouTube there are

videos on how to get stolen credit card numbers. In some of the videos

there are ads from premium brands - in one case a Honda ad - that not

only give credibility to criminals selling stolen credit card numbers,

but enriches them too.

Fake Passports, Goods Currency: Digital Citizens found ads embedded in

videos promoting the sale of fake passports, ID cards, fake money as

well as fake goods. In one video promoting knock-off Michael Kors

handbags an ad ran for the University of North Carolina's Business

School.

Appearance and Performance Enhancing Drugs (APEDs): Digital Citizens

looked at APEDs in a separate report in October of 2013. Steroids,

human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs remain

popular on YouTube, which is especially troubling given their allure

by teens who make up a large part of YouTube's audience. One HGH

video, on YouTube since March 2013, has over 41,000 views. It has an

ad embedded promoting flights to Los Angeles, one for hair loss and

another for drug rehabilitation. Google analytics enable it to connect

ads that are relevant to the video, but apparently those analytics

won't flag illegal activity.

Digital Citizens found that these videos were once again flourishing

on YouTube - and Google continues to profit from them. Google profits

by running ads tied to videos, and then splits the revenue with these

bad actors.

"Just like after our first investigative report, we expect YouTube to

take these videos down and the ads to go away almost instantly, but

that is actually evidence of the problem, not the solution," Galvin

said.

About Digital Citizens Alliance

Digital Citizens is a consumer-oriented coalition focused on educating

the public and policy makers on the threats that consumers face on the

Internet and the importance for Internet stakeholders - individuals,

government and industry - to make the Web a safer place. Based in

Washington, DC, the Digital Citizens Alliance counts among its

supporters: private citizens, the health, pharmaceutical and creative

industries as well as online safety experts and other communities

focused on Internet safety. For more information, please visit

digitalcitizensalliance.org.

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SOURCE Digital Citizens Alliance

-0- 03/10/2014

/CONTACT: Adam Benson, 202.999.9104, adam@digitalcitizensalliance.org

/Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140310/DC80228-INFO

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/Web Site: http://www.digitalcitizensalliance.org

CO: Digital Citizens Alliance

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