Head of Google Europe apologises over ads on extremist content

Google’s European chief has publicly apologised to consumers and advertisers after online adverts appeared next to extremist material, but declined to say whether the company would begin actively seeking out such content and taking action against it.

Matt Brittin, Google’s head of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told an industry conference in London on Monday: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone affected.”

He said the company was working on ways to improve its ad placement system, saying: “Clearly we need to do more on that.”

However, Brittin three times declined to say whether Google would go beyond simply investigating when users flag up inappropriate material, such as videos on YouTube, which it owns.

Google executives have been summoned to the Cabinet Office later this week to explain to ministers what the company plans to do about ads attached to extremist content on YouTube and Google’s wider network.

The government and several high-profile companies have suspended adverts, or are reviewing whether to do so, after it emerged that extremists including the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke were profiting from adverts on Google’s network.

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