Google targets ads to combat climate change denial

Google is imposing a ban on digital ads that promote false climate change claims. This will be done in an effort to reduce revenue for climate deniers and stop misinformation spreading on its platforms.

Google targets ads to combat climate change denial

In a blog post, the company stated Thursday that the new policy would also apply to YouTube. YouTube announced last week a broad crackdown on vaccine misinformation.

Google stated that they have heard from increasing numbers of publishers and advertising partners about concerns regarding ads that promote inaccurate claims about climate. Advertisers don't want ads next to such content.

According to Google, YouTube creators and publishers "don't want advertisements promoting these claims appearing on their pages or videos."

According to , the restrictions will "interdict ads for and monetization content that is contrary to well-established scientific consensus about the existence and causes climate change."

The changes were made to address the frustrations of publishers and also appear to be intended countering online influencers who monetize or make money off YouTube videos that promote climate change denial theories.

The company stated that content calling climate change a hoax and denying that human activity and greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to earth's long-term heating will face restrictions.

Experts were skeptical about the effectiveness of the proposed changes.

"How can they identify misinformation (i.e. "How will they determine what is misinformation (i.e. lies) or incomplete or misleading information?" Lisa Schipper at the University of Oxford's Environmental Change Institute.

Schipper cited images showing fossil fuel companies using clean energy as an example. Schipper stated that these adverts that claim a different truth can be more harmful than others because they appear innocuous and simultaneously greenwash the company.

Google will use both human reviewers and automated tools to enforce the policy. The policy goes into effect for YouTube creators and publishers in November.

Advertisements are still allowed for content related to climate policy, such as public debates.

But such debates can also be polarized, cautioned Steve Smith, executive director at Oxford's Net Zero climate neutrality program and CO2RE research center on greenhouse gas removal.

Smith stated that misinformation is a problem in online discussions about low-carbon energy, travel, and food as well as climate science.

Google is the dominant player in the digital advertising industry. It earned $147 billion last year. Facebook, another big player, bans misinformation spreading ads, but it does not list specific topics like climate change denial.

Google launched new features earlier this week that are designed to help users reduce their carbon footprint, such as a search function that displays which flights have lower emission.

Many people are concerned about misinformation and the role social media giants play in spreading it. According to a poll Friday by The Pearson Institute and The Associated Press -NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 95% of Americans believe misinformation makes it difficult to find important information.

Facebook's issue with false information was brought to the forefront by Frances Haugen (a former data scientist who became a whistleblower), telling members of Congress how the company is aware that its platform spreads misinformation, but refuses any changes that could harm its profits.

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