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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
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
-- 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
-- 88 percent of Americans agreed with the statement "As a nearly $40
billion business, Google has a responsibility to help make the
-- 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
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
"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
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
SOURCE Digital Citizens Alliance
/CONTACT: Adam Benson, 202.999.9104, email@example.com
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/Web Site: http://www.digitalcitizensalliance.org
CO: Digital Citizens Alliance
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