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Google, YouTube fix digital ads policy to curb climate change misinformation

Published on Fri 05 Nov 2021 at 12:07

The new policy against violating publisher content, Google-served ads, and monetised YouTube videos come into effect from November 2021.

By Abeen Shayiq

The changing landscape of information, which has now turned to a continuous rage of mis/disinformation, could no longer be overlooked by social media giants like Google and YouTube. Last month, Google announced via its blog post that it is updating its ads and monetisation policies around climate change. The new policy against violating publisher content, Google-served ads, and monetised YouTube videos will come into effect from November 2021.

Google announced that “content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change” will be now prohibited. This new policy will thus be applied to Google advertisers, publishers and YouTube creators.

The internet is filled with misleading information and conspiracy theories around climate change. There are people who promote the idea that climate change is a hoax, thus creating an environment of confusion and chaos. There has been a long-standing denial of global warming and the hazardous effects of greenhouse gases.

Google has been receiving a number of complaints from its advertising and publisher partners, who do not wish to run their ads alongside such content. YouTube creators have been cashing in by promoting conspiracies and fake claims about climate change. When a video is monetised on YouTube, these creators earn revenue via the ads that run in the videos.

There has been a major downplaying of the threats that climate change poses and content creators have profited from duping people. Millions of people believe what they come across online. They lack the tools and ability to tell the difference between real and fake. The insensitivity of the creators and lack of surveillance from the platforms over such content can cost people their lives.

As it has been observed, the anti-vaccine narratives all around the world have caused some serious issues during the pandemic. The anti-vaccine campaign has given rise to the infodemic of medical misinformation. Conspiracy theories about COVID-19, emotive content against vaccines, and the denial of the pandemic have cost people their lives. The manipulative nature of these posts cause disharmony and a lack of confidence in the people towards official systems.

In order to fight this trend, YouTube has also announced a ban on anti-vaccine content on its platform. The social media platform has since then been removing accounts and videos that stoke fear about vaccines.

Any content that violates the new digital ads policy will be removed or demonetised, based on monitoring by automated tools as well as human capacity. Creators will no longer be able to make money by spreading fake claims on climate change. The lesser the monetary motivation, the lesser will such content come forward and reach more people.

Vaccine hesitancy and climate change denial are two major threats that the world is suffering from. And it often starts with a small social media post, which later grows into a whole campaign. By taking some control over what can and cannot be promoted on its platforms, Google has taken an important step in strengthening the fight against misinformation.