M&S and Tesco have suspended their advertising with Google due to fears of appearing next to extremist content.

The retailers have joined the more than 250 brands, including McDonald’s, Heinz and the BBC, that have pulled their support amid concerns over extremist material on Google’s YouTube.

M&S said it was “pausing activity across Google platforms while the matter is worked through”, and Tesco suspended advertising on YouTube last Thursday. “We are always reviewing how we ensure our advertising does not appear alongside inappropriate content,” said a Tesco spokesman.

The moves came following an investigation by The Times, which found marketing from companies including ITV, Aviva and Heinz featured alongside YouTube videos posted by hate preachers, rape apologists and homophobic extremists. All three companies have since pulled their Google advertising.

The revelations also prompted the government to suspend its advertising, as ministers called on Google to give assurances that its messages would be promoted in “a safe and appropriate way”.

Google has since vowed to make changes to its policies and brand controls for advertisers. “We have strict guidelines that define where Google ads should appear, and in the vast majority of cases, our policies work as intended, protecting users and advertisers from harmful or inappropriate content,” said a Google spokesman. “We accept that we don’t always get it right, and that sometimes ads appear where they should not.”