Google and YouTube recently announced a new policy prohibiting climate skeptics from monetizing content on their platforms through advertisements or creator compensation. Google’s ad team issued a statement on Thursday saying that they “will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change.”
Google claims that the move is in response to companies that have expressed dissatisfaction with their advertisements appearing on content they disagree with.
They stated, “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. Advertisers simply don’t want their ads to appear next to this content.”
They also claim publishers do not want ads promoting climate denialism on their content.
Human review and automated tools will reportedly be used to apply the new policy. Google says that not all skeptical content will be demonetized, but they will carefully discern “between content that states a false claim as fact, versus content that reports on or discusses that claim.”
The company stated that in developing the new policy, they “consulted authoritative sources on the topic of climate science, including experts who have contributed to United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
In an interview with Shepard Smith of CNBC, St. John’s University Law professor Kate Klonick was asked: “Is there a risk in having these private companies play the role of referee?”
Klonick replied, “Yea, there is a huge risk; I mean, for one, they’re not particularly accountable except kind of through your ability to sign off of the platform or to sign on. There’s no kind of vote; there’s no type of representative; there’s no way to weigh in on what the rules should be or shouldn’t be. There [is] not even a lot of transparency around the rules or how they’re enforced. This is something that has just started developing in the last five years at all these companies.”
She continued, “So it’s really dangerous when you think about the control that private companies have, but at the same time, it’s really dangerous to think about what would happen if private companies weren’t doing this type of work, and everything that would be going on in these platforms without them.”
Big Tech platforms have been chastised for selectively enforcing their censorship measures to regulate right-wing content while allowing left-wing discourse to flourish.
Axios called the move by Google “one of the most aggressive measures any major tech platform has taken to combat climate change misinformation.” The policy is expected to be enforced beginning next month.
The climate change denial demonetization policy follows another new YouTube policy to remove content that questions the safety and efficacy of vaccines or contradicts the World Health Organization.