Google Failing to Enforce Policy Against Climate Disinformation Ads, New Report Finds

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The Google and YouTube logos are seen at the entrance to the Google offices in Los Angeles, California. Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images
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new report has found that Google is breaking its October 2021 promise to not sell ads on YouTube videos containing climate disinformation.

The Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) coalition and the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) collected 200 examples of climate disinformation YouTube videos, which collectively serve ads to over 73 million viewers. But that’s “probably the tip of the iceberg,” CCDH head of research Callum Hood told the New York Times. Of those videos, (with 18 million total views), 100 meet Google’s very narrow definition of climate disinformation, which applies only to denial of the existence or human causes of climate change.

The second set of 100 videos meets CAAD’s definition of climate disinformation, which accounts for popular tactics like greenwashing. These videos amassed 55 million views, demonstrating the weakness of Google’s current definition of climate disinformation.

During the course of the research, only eight videos in the researchers’ dataset were demonetized by Google. “Tech companies make big promises on hate and misinformation because they know it’s hard to see if they’ve kept them,” said CCDH’s Head of Research Callum Hood in a press release.

“Despite Google’s green grandstanding, its ads continue to fuel the climate denial industry.” Brands featured in ads on climate denial included Politico, Google itself, and the new Jane Fonda movie “80 for Brady.” Ms. Fonda told the Times she was “appalled that an ad for one of my movies appears on one of those videos, and hope YouTube stops this practice immediately,” and found it “abhorrent that YouTube would violate its own policy [while] the earth is burning.”

For a Deeper Dive

New York Times

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