Google and YouTube to demonitize climate change deniers

Google, in what is an attempt to discourage misinformation on its platforms regarding climate change, has announced that it will no longer allow advertisers, publishers and YouTube creators to monetize content that denies the existence of climate change.

The company, on Thursday, 7th October, detailed this in a statement.

“Today, we’re announcing a new monetization policy for Google advertisers, publishers and YouTube creators that will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change… 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,” reads part of Google’s statement.

Google goes on further to say that it will use a combination of automated tools and human reviews on the content to enforce the policy.

“When evaluating content against this new policy, we’ll look carefully at the context in which claims are made, differentiating between content that states a false claim as fact, versus content that reports on or discusses that claim,”

However, the company says ads will still be allowed on climate topics like public debates on climate policy, research and more.

This measure by Google on climate change deniers comes only one week after the company went on a crackdown on vaccine misinformation on the YouTube platform.

Vaccine Misinformation on YouTube

YouTube said that it will not allow videos on the platform that claims vaccines approved by health authorities are dangerous or do not work. The platform also banned prominent anti-vaccine accounts.

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The new policy expands to block misinformation around other vaccines as well, not the Covid-19 jab exclusively. These include the flu shot, the HPV vaccine and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

As with the climate change policy, there are still some exceptions to the ban, with YouTube allowing videos that include people sharing their personal experiences with different vaccinations.

The company’s expansion of its policies towards vaccines has been triggered by the people’s reluctance towards the various COVID-19 vaccines. YouTube’s vice president of global trust and safety thinks the backlash could extend to other vaccines.

Thoughts on the recent policies from Google and YouTube

Whether demonetization of creators who think climate change is a hoax will be enough to discourage them will be interesting to see, as there are rumours these creators are normally backed by huge organizations and the ad money from their content most likely forms a tiny percentage of their profits.

Outright banning of their channels is a better way to go about things, but then again,  what happened to freedom of speech?

If the few tech companies that control a substantial part of the internet that a normal user typically uses bans or silences each voice that goes against what they think is right, what happens when the few dissenting voices are right and the tech giants are wrong?

It is a delicate matter, but Google finding a way to serve users with information that is credible from experts in all sectors is the first step in addressing the issue.

Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly

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