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: Google to block ads from appearing next to content denying climate change

Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it will prohibit ads and monetization of videos on its YouTube platform and other content that contradict “well-established scientific consensus” about environmental issues.

Starting next month, these revenue-linked limits will be placed on content calling climate change a hoax or denying that greenhouse gas emissions and human activity have contributed to Earth’s long-run warming, the company said.

YouTube will still allow videos or channels that contradict mainstream science about climate change but will not allow posters to earn revenue on videos or channels deemed to promote hoaxes or conspiracy theories, Google said.

The search giant
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will use a mix of automated tools and human reviewers to identify violations among its publisher content, Google-served ads and YouTube videos that earn ad revenue through the YouTube Partner Program.

Read: Despite big pledges from Bezos and Musk, only a fraction of charitable giving targets climate change

“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 making its announcement. “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.”

Advertisements will still be allowed on content that talks about public debates on climate policy, for instance.

Steve Smith, executive director of Oxford’s Net Zero climate neutrality research program, told the Associated Press that the removal of ads and revenue opportunity may not go far enough.

“Misinformation is at play in online discussions around low-carbon energy, travel and food, just as much as it is over climate science,” Smith said.

Google hauled in $147 billion in ad revenue last year. Its stock is up nearly 60% in the year to date. The S&P 500
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is up about 17% over the same run.

Read: Biden to restore 3 national monuments cut by Trump

Separately, Google Flights this week rolled out a new function that allows travelers to find out the carbon emission estimates across flight options searched through Google. The information appears within flight search results and on booking pages, and users can sort their results by the carbon emissions associated with each flight.

The tool was cheered because it empowers consumers, but raised some concerns that this program and similar flight-tracker and carbon offset programs (for instance: buy a plane ticket, automatically donate to reforestation) don’t go far enough to reduce aviation’s large carbon footprint.

Facebook
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another social media giant long targeted by critics for allowing misinformation on global warming and other environmental developments to populate users’ social-media feeds unchecked, last year launched a new information hub to provide what it called “science-based information” about climate change.

“Climate change is real. The science is unambiguous and the need to act grows more urgent by the day,” the company said in September 2020, after months of increased questioning of the climate-change denial posts it allowed on the site under the cover of labeling them as editorials.

Facebook is in the spotlight this week after a corporate whistleblower, during a “60 Minutes” CBS television airing and at a Senate hearing, alleged the pursuit of profit at all costs over spreading disinformation. CEO Mark Zuckerberg refuted her claims, saying mental health remains a key concern at the social sharing platform.

Opinion: Facebook won’t get in trouble for putting profit over people, but that is far from the only issue

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