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Google, YouTube ban climate change denial ads

In a bid to clamp down on climate change misinformation, Google has announced a new policy prohibiting users from being able to monetise climate denial content on its platforms.

Internet giant Google announced a new policy on Thursday that prohibits users from making money from climate denial content found on its search engine or on its video-sharing platform YouTube.

The new prohibition covers both online advertisements and creator payments that refer to climate change as a hoax or scam, deny widely accepted scientific consensus that the global climate is warming, and that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change.

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.

Google LLC

“In recent years, 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 company said in a statement. “Advertisers simply don’t want their ads to appear next to this content. And publishers and creators don’t want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos.”

When evaluating content against the policy, Google said it will take context into account “differentiating between content that states a false claim as fact, versus content that reports on or discusses that claim”.

The policy will be enforced by a mixture of automated tools and human review and will start by November, it added.

Climate denial. Image: Friends of Science

An advertisement found on the web, rejecting the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for the currently observed global warming. Image: Friends of Science

The tech giant will continue to allow ads and monetisation on other climate-related topics, including public debates on climate policy, the varying impacts of climate change, and new research, it said.

In making this policy change, Google said it has consulted authoritative sources on climate science, including experts who contributed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment reports.

The announcement comes a day after Google chief executive Sundar Pichai revealed in his blog that the firm was rolling out new sustainability features to book flights or purchase appliances that have lower carbon footprints, a programme from its smart home brands Nest where a wi-fi-enabled thermostat optimises heating and cooling of homes and businesses to conserve energy, and eco-friendly routing on Google Maps.

Pichai also said that when people search with questions about climate change, they will be directed to authoritative information from sources such as the United Nations, in addition to the existing news sources.

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