On YouTube, a network of paedophiles is hiding in plain sight

Scores of YouTube videos with tens of millions of views are being inundated with comments by paedophiles, with adverts from major brands running alongside the disturbing content.

Videos of children showing their exposed buttocks, underwear and genitals are racking up millions of views on YouTube – with the site displaying advertising from major cosmetics and car brands alongside the content.

Comments beneath scores of videos appear to show paedophiles sharing timestamps for parts of the videos where exposed genitals can be seen, or when a child does the splits or lifts up their top to show their nipples. Some of the children in the videos, most of whom are girls, appear to be as young as five. Many of the videos have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of views, with hundreds of comments.

The videos are also being monetised by YouTube, including pre-roll adverts from Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Fortnite, Grammarly, L’Oreal, Maybelline, Metro: Exodus, Peloton and SingleMuslims.com. Banner advertising for Google and the World Business Forum also appeared alongside some of the videos. As well as providing YouTube with our research, we contacted the advertisers to alert them to the issue.

“Hi nice to meet you kisses and hugs you’re beautiful”, one commenter writes under a video of a young girl playing in her underwear. This video was monetised with pre-roll advertising from Shen Yun

Videos of little girls playing Twister, doing gymnastics, playing in the pool and eating ice lollies are all routinely descended upon by hordes of semi-anonymous commenters, sharing time codes for crotch shots, directing other people to similar videos of children and exchanging phone numbers along with a promise to swap more videos via WhatsApp or Kik. On some videos, confused children who have uploaded videos of them playing in the garden respond to comments asking them how old they are. On one video, a young girl appears to ask another commenter why one of the videos had made him “grow”. The video shows the child and her friend doing yoga and is accompanied by pre-roll advertising from L’Oreal. The video has almost two million views.

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