Google Bans Sites Promoting “Climate Denial” From Using Its Digital Ad Systems

Report from the Wall Street Journal

In Brief – Google has announced that it will not allow its digital ads service to place ads on sites if the associated content is adjudged to be climate change denial. The ban will apply to web sites that use the Google display advertising systems to earn money, as well as YouTube. The ban targets “content that contradicts the well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change” including denying that human activity or greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change. Google is the largest digital advertising service by revenue and a main revenue source for many content creators.

Context – The major social media platforms ramped up their content moderation in 2020 regarding COVID and election governance, and in 2021 on vaccines. For months, PEI has been pointing to policing “climate change” misinformation as the trip wire into policing a top tier, long-term, substantive public policy debate. Back in March, in a US House hearing on social media misinformation, Google’s and Facebook’s CEOs were asked about climate misinformation by Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), calling for restrictions, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-FL) pushed back hard. (Seriously, watch McEachin at 3:49:45 and Crenshaw at 5:26:10 of the hearing video. By the way, Mark Zuckerberg’s response to McEachin attempting to explain how COVID and Election content was different that Climate Change is interesting in the context of the “Facebook Whistleblower”.) While there was little immediate conservative reaction to Google’s announcement, likely because of confusion over social media moderation in the wake of the “Whistleblower” charges, Google flexing its ad system power against The Federalist, a conservative opinion site, in mid-2020, created major blowback. Look for this Google policy to create even more furor unless Google is clear that it will only target the most egregious, fringe sites. But on this emotional and ideological topic, that will be very hard.

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