A pro-Israel video advertisement has been discovered in children’s games on Android devices, raising concerns among parents. London-based barista Maria Julia Cassis reported that her 6-year-old son was disturbed by the ad, which showcased graphic imagery and a message stating, “WE WILL MAKE SURE THAT THOSE WHO HARM US PAY A HEAVY PRICE.” The advertisement’s placement in children’s games has sparked outrage and a demand for stricter regulations on in-app advertising. Parents and child advocacy groups are calling for increased transparency and the implementation of effective content filtering systems to protect young users from being exposed to distressing or inappropriate content.
At least five other European instances have been documented where the same video appeared in popular children’s games like Angry Birds. These incidents have raised alarm among parents and educators, prompting an in-depth investigation into the safety and monitoring of ads within popular children’s apps. Consequently, app developers and advertising platforms have been urged to take necessary precautions and increase transparency to prevent inappropriate content from appearing in games targeting younger audiences.
Ads showed up in games like “Alice’s Mergeland,” “Stack,” “Balls’n Ropes,” “Solitaire: Card Game 2023,” and “Subway Surfers”
Rovio, the SEGA-owned creator of Angry Birds, acknowledged that “ads with unsettling content accidentally made it into our game” and are now being manually blocked.
David Saranga, Head of Digital at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, verified that the video was a government-sponsored ad. However, he said he had “no idea” how it ended in various games. Rovio has since taken immediate action to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future by implementing stricter content filters for ads that run within their games. It is still unclear how the government-sponsored ad bypassed existing filters. Still, both parties are working together to address the issue and ensure a more enjoyable gaming experience for players. Saranga revealed that the video was part of a larger advocacy effort by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Six instances were found across the UK, France, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands where the same or similar ads appeared in children’s games or were encountered by young gamers. This has raised concerns regarding the efficiency of age restriction measures on online advertisements, especially considering the sensitive nature of the content in question. As a result, calls for stricter regulations and better enforcement mechanisms have emerged from various stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of young internet users.
Featured Image Credit: Angry Birds Website; Thank you!