London - Google has raked in millions of dollars in advertising revenue from videos that exploit young children and even appeal to paedophiles.
One channel which has attracted billions of views on YouTube, owned by the search giant, features clips of sisters aged seven and nine in baby clothes, sucking dummies and being scared by snakes.
According to analysts, the Toy Freaks channel which was shut down by YouTube last week earns the girls’ father up to £8.7-million a year, with Google collecting up to a further £7.1-million.
Major UK firms including Which? and Iceland responded to the revelation revealed in a probe by The Times newspaper by suspending advertising on the video-sharing site. The row comes after Google and Facebook were criticised for failing to block videos glorifying terrorism.
The Toy Freaks channel was set up two years ago by Greg Chism, of Illinois, initially featuring apparently innocent videos of him fooling about with daughters Annabelle and Victoria.
But his strategy of analysing which films attract most views has seen footage enter bizarre areas. One clip showed one of the sisters bleeding from the mouth and crying after losing a milk tooth, while another featuring them in a swimming pool is said to pander to paedophiles.
With more than 500 videos over six years, at one point Toy Freaks was YouTube’s most watched channel. It was deleted after YouTube said it "violated" its community guidelines.
However critics said other videos purporting to be aimed at children but containing content which appealed to abusers were still available to view. Belinda Winder, a forensic psychologist and head of the sexual offences unit at Nottingham Trent University, told The Times that such clips appealed to paedophiles or adults with "sexual fetishes involving pain and abuse".
"The content is not technically illegal but it is highly suggestive, as is the camerawork, which seems to be more that of a pornographic film than a children’s channel," she added.
Yamaha Music told the paper it was appalled that it was advertised on Toy Freaks and suspended its campaign. Meanwhile YouTube said that it took child safety extremely seriously and had tightened its policies.
Chism, 46, told The Times that accusations he was exploiting his daughters were "completely false".