Digital Citizens Alliance Report Strongly Critical of Google

Digital Citizens Alliance report claims that Google “Continues to Allow Bad Actors to Flourish On YouTube.” Is there substance to the claim?

DIGITAL CITIZENS ALLIANCE has published a report criticising Google’s determination to protect citizens from online dangers. Its stinging rebukes go so far as to suggest that Google is profiting from “illegal and dangerous online activity.” The publication of “Digital Weeds: How Google Continues to Allow Bad Actors to Flourish On YouTube” alongside results of a national survey, will make for uncomfortable reading for Google.

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Dangerous Drugs, Fraud and Content Theft


The Digital Citizens Alliance report follows investigations undertaken in June 2013 and the publication of “Google, YouTube and Evil Doers: Too Close for Comfort.” The Digital Citizens Alliance claims that Google is failing to protect users from inappropriate video content on YouTube. It goes further, suggesting that advertising revenues flow to Google from content which promotes banned substances, dangerous drugs and various illegal and immoral financial and social practices.

Tom Galvin, Executive Director of Digital Citizens said

Google has to start acting like the great company they claim to be and make Internet safety a priority. 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.”

Digital Citizens Alliance National Survey

The publication of the report is accompanied by statistics from a Digital Citizens Alliance national survey (of circa 1,000 US internet users). The survey found that:

  • 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.This is a surprisingly low percentage and ‘common sense’ would suggest that the percentage should be in the high 90’s.
  • 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.

The Digital Citizens Alliance has published a scathing infographic summarising the survey’s findings and claims about Google and YouTube.

Digital Citizens Alliance infographic

Infographic on new nationwide polling from Digital Citizens Alliance. (PRNewsFoto/Digital Citizens Alliance)

Google’s Riposte

In wake of the June 2013 report, Google acted swiftly by taking down ‘offending’ videos. Google claims their systems work, but researchers compiling the 2014 Digital Citizens Alliance report claim to have found hundreds of videos promoting illegal prescription drugs. This suggests that inappropriate video content has quickly re-emerged on YouTube and is not isolated.

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Galvin added

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.”

You can read more about the Digital Citizens Alliance at

Further Reading on Google

By Steve Nimmons

Steve is a Certified European Engineer, Chartered Engineer, Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Royal Society of Arts, Linnean Society and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He is an Electric Circle Patron of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a Liveryman and Freeman of London and serves on numerous industry panels. He is a member of Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute and the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

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