Google has decided not to run any advertising alongside content that “contradicts the well-established scientific consensus on the existence and causes of climate change”.

The decision impacts YouTube, advertisers and publishers. It appears to be primarily a matter of commerce rather than conscience: the adtech strangler has touted the move as a change in its advertising and monetization policy.

“In recent years, we’ve heard directly from a growing number of our advertising partners and publishers who have expressed concerns about ads running alongside or promoting inaccurate claims about climate change,” the Google missive read. “Advertisers just don’t want their ads to appear alongside this content. And publishers and creators don’t want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos.”

Hence the new policy, which will ban ads appearing on content that suggests climate change is a hoax, scam or denies that human activity contributes to it. Ads suggesting any of the above will also be prohibited.

Google says it “will carefully consider the context in which the claims are made, distinguishing between content that states a false claim as a fact, versus content that reports or discusses that claim.

“We will also continue to allow advertising and monetization on other climate-related topics, including public debates on climate policy, the varying impacts of climate change, new research and more.”

Google said it had “consulted authoritative sources on the subject of climate science, including experts who contributed to the assessment reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” for the help define its policies.

Their recommendations will be implemented using “a combination of automated tools and human review” to assess content and ads.

But Google hasn’t explained how the review process will work.

The register expects it to need it, and quickly, as the reaction to the change we’ve seen on social media has already criticized Google’s position as another example of Big Tech effectively becoming the arbiter of a acceptable public discourse.

Here is another point of view.

Others have pointed out that Google has been enjoying this content for years.

It is also easy to find a favorable sentiment for change.

One thing is certain: this change will trigger weeks of culture warfare arguments that will bring a lot of heat but very little light and hardly change their minds. ®



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