Misinformation about climate change — i.e. “content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change” — will not be monetizable under a new Google policy for advertisers, publishers and YouTube creators. Per the company, the new policy comes at the request of advertisers who say they don’t want their ads running next to that climate change denial content and publishers who say they don’t want their content running next to climate change denial ads.

The key details:

  • Content that refers to “climate change as a hoax or a scam, [makes] 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” will be affected. Content that does so will no longer be monetized. Advertising that does so will no longer be run across Google’s ads network.
  • The company did not share data on the scope of the issue but did say that once enforcement of the policy begins it would have a clearer picture. Enforcement of the new policy will begin in 30 days for publishers and creators and 60 days for advertisers.
  • Google will use AI and human review to enforce the policy against “violating publisher content, Google-served ads, and YouTube videos that are monetizing via YouTube’s Partner Program.” Monetized content will be evaluated to differentiate between “content that states a false claim as fact versus content that reports on or discusses that claim.”
  • Organic content does not apply. At the same time, monetized content on other climate-related topics such as public debates about climate policy, the impact of climate change and new research on climate change will still be able to be monetized. As for organic content, YouTube has its own policies in place to reduce the spread of misinformation and point consumers to authoritative content through search results and context panels.

The first step
Advertisers and agency execs see Google’s policy change as a move in the right direction for the company. “This is a great step forward and a welcome change,” said Joshua Lowcock, chief digital and innovation officer at UM, adding that the news comes on the heels of a recent report from IPG Mediabrands on the acceleration of misinformation and the danger that poses for advertisers. “I hope this sets a precedent for other companies and ad tech partners to follow,” he said.

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