Google prohibits ads that promote or make money from climate change denial

Google is cracking down on digital ads that promote the idea that climate change is a hoax or make money from that kind of content, hoping to limit revenue for climate change deniers and stop the spread of misinformation on its platforms.

The company said in a blog post on Thursday, Oct. 7 that the new policy will also apply to YouTube, which last week announced a sweeping crackdown of vaccine misinformation.

“We’ve heard directly from a growing number of our advertising and publisher partners who have expressed concerns about ads that run alongside or promote inaccurate claims about climate change,” the statement posted on Google’s AdSense page said.

“Publishers and creators don’t want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos.”

The company said the restrictions will prohibit ads that promote or monetize content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around climate change. That will apply to claims that climate change is a hoax or a scam, that deny long-term trends show the global climate is warming, or that deny greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change.

A polar bear stands on a ice flow in Baffin Bay above the arctic circle on July 10, 2008. The latest report from the UN panel on climate change suggests that the Arctic could be ice-free once every 100 years, and that’s only if the world can limit warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. (Jonathan Hayward)

Google said it would use both automated tools and human reviewers to enforce the policy, which takes effect in November for publishers and YouTube creators, and in December for advertisers.

Advertisements will still be allowed on content that’s about related topics like public debates on climate policy or the varying impacts of climate change.

The company is one of the two dominant players in the global digital ad industry, earning $147 billion US in ad revenue last year. Facebook, the other big player, prohibits ads used to spread misinformation, but does not list specific topics including climate change denial.

Earlier this week, Google rolled out new features aimed at helping users reduce their carbon footprints, though an article in The Verge points out that companies including Google have been called out for shifting responsibility onto individual consumers, and that these latest announcements aren’t designed to reduce the company’s own carbon footprint.

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