A 2020 report by Avaaz, a US not-for-profit organization focused on issues such as climate change, blamed YouTube for “incentivizing this climate misinformation content via its monetization program.”
In response, Google is finally banning ads, YouTube videos, and other content that preaches misinformation about climate change.
The ban applies to ads and 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.”
This will also stop YouTube creators from earning advertising revenue from climate crisis misinformation.
Fadi Quran, the individual responsible for Avaaz’s disinformation project, told the BBC: “With three weeks left for the critical Glasgow summit, and climate misinformation on the rise to undermine it, other social media platforms must quickly follow Google’s leadership.”
Disincentivizing those that make money from creating provocative and emotive content that denies and downplays the threat of the climate crisis on social media is of utmost importance in the fight against misinformation and the destruction of our planet.
Critics want social media sites to be accountable for climate change disinformation by clearly labeling content that contains false information and demoting misleading videos and other publications so that they don’t show up as ‘suggested’ to users.
Even if these steps are taken by other social media outlets, Greenpeace’s Silvia Pastorelli told the BBC that it wouldn’t be “[any]where near enough to stop the overwhelming amount of climate disinformation, greenwashing, and outright climate denial on big tech’s platforms.”
On top of stopping the monetization of misleading content, Google declared that it will strive to remove it or reduce its prominence and that it will work to provide authoritative information, even if users are searching for climate-related conspiracies.
Google also details a range of measures it implements to help combat climate change in a blog post by Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, including how Google Maps displays the most fuel-efficient route if it isn’t already the fastest one in the US, adding carbon emissions information to Google Flights as well as emissions per seat, and a new feature for Nest thermostats that will help users maximize their clean energy use.