War on science: Google, YouTube ban monetization of climate disinformation

  • Published on October 8th, 2021

Digital rights advocates on Thursday welcomed a report that Google and its YouTube video platform are prohibiting the monetization of climate disinformation. Google advertisers and publishers and YouTube creators will be banned from receiving advertising revenue that contradicts “well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change,” company officials said in a statement reported by Axios.

The Google Doodle for Earth Day 2016. If only they'd done more to fight climate denial over the past 10 years...
The Google Doodle for Earth Day 2016. If only they’d done more to fight climate denial over the past 10 years…

By Brett Wilkins
Common Dreams

“This includes content referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change,” the statement explained.

“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,” the statement added.

Last year, a study by the advocacy group Avaaz concluded that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm was “driving millions of people to watch climate misinformation videos” and that the company was incentivizing such content through its monetization program.

“Some of the largest household brands in the world, including Samsung, L’Oréal, Warner Bros, Carrefour, and Danone, as well as two of the largest environmental groups in the world, Greenpeace International and World Wildlife Fund, have advertisements running on these climate misinformation videos,” Avaaz said.

Other social media platforms are also rife with climate lies. Last month, Common Dreams reported that the environmental group Friends of the Earth found that Facebook allows 99% of all climate disinformation to go unchecked. A 2020 InfluenceMap study found that in the first six months of last year, at least eight million people in the U.S. saw 51 Facebook ads containing false climate claims.

Google’s move to quash climate misinformation profiteers comes one week after YouTube announced it was banning the accounts of several prominent anti-vaccine personalities.

“There is no place for science denial—whether it’s climate, Covid, or anything else—on such influential platforms,” Vahid Razavi, founder of the digital rights group Ethics in Tech, told Common Dreams. “Deniers can find someplace else to spread their lies.”

(Originally appeared at Common Dreams. Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.)



About the Author

I’m San Francisco-based writer and activist; my work focuses on issues of war and peace and human rights. I’m currently a staff writer at Common Dreams, as well as a member of the international socialist writers’ group Collective 20. I was a longtime freelance journalist and essayist, with articles appearing in a wide variety of print and online publications including Counterpunch, Truthout, Salon.com, Antiwar.com, Asia Times, The Jakarta Post, Alternet, teleSUR, Yahoo News, Mondoweiss, EcoWatch, and Venezuela Analysis. I am also the lead contributor to the blog of Ethics In Tech, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit of which I am also a board member. When I am not writing I am in the streets fighting for peace and for racial, economic, and climate justice. I am currently membership coordinator for San Francisco Berniecrats, the local Our Revolution affiliate, and am also active in the AfroSoc caucus of Democratic Socialists of America, San Francisco.

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