Google failing to enforce climate denial policy, study finds
Google let dozens of ads run on articles denying the science behind global warming despite a new policy against doing so, according to a report released Wednesday.
The nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate identified 50 climate denial articles with Google-run ads active on them published after November 8, the day the new policy kicked in.
Google initially announced it would add climate change denial to the list of topics it limits or restricts advertising alongside in October.
“In making their initial announcement, Google appears to recognise that they have played a part in making climate change denial a profitable business, and yet they have not followed through with real action,” Imran Ahmed, head of the CCDH, said in a statement.
“Google’s motto used to be ‘do no evil’; it appears though, there was a caveat: unless it makes Google a buck or two,” he added.
The articles on which the nonprofit found Google ads running include a piece in Breitbart calling global warming a “hoax” and one in Western Journal saying that “whether the climate is changing — and whether it is caused by man — are questions not answered definitively.”
There is broad scientific consensus that the climate is warming and that human-driven greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for that change. Google’s policy specifically bars content that denies either of those facts.
The 50 articles identified by the CCDH were far reaching, amassing almost 50,000 interactions on Facebook.
A Google spokesperson told The Hill that the search giant “reviewed the pages shared with us and have taken appropriate enforcement actions.”
“When we find content that crosses the line from policy debate to promoting climate change denial, we stop serving ads on that page or site,” they added.
CCDH researchers verified that the articles were still live as of Wednesday morning, meaning the platform only acted on them after being notified of the study by the press. Thirteen of the 50 still have ads running on them, a CCDH spokesperson said Thursday.
The CCDH’s report claims that Google consistently fails to live up to its policies banning harmful content.
The far-right news website the Gateway Pundit managed to rake in over $1 million in Google ad revenue between Nov. 2020 and June 2021, the group found in a study released this summer, while denying the result of last year’s presidential election despite a policy demonetizing that strain of misinformation.
The Gateway Pundit was fully demonetized in September.
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