Google crackdown will affect any user contradicting consensus on climate change

Google crackdown will affect any user contradicting consensus on climate change

The new Google and YouTube crackdown on climate change skeptics will allow for discussion of climate science but will entail demonetizing anyone who contradicts the scientific consensus, even credentialed users, the search and video giant clarified.

Last week, the search and video giant announced it will prohibit ads on and any monetization of content that contradicts the scientific consensus on climate change, which will affect anyone who wants to make host content or put up ads that refer to climate change as a "hoax or a scam" or deny that human activity contributes to climate change.

Google has clarified that it will continue to allow robust debate on climate change to occur on the platform, including ads or monetized content that discuss inaccurate climate change claims.

"When evaluating content against this new misinformation policy, we’ll look carefully at the context in which claims are made, differentiating between content that states a false claim as fact, versus content that reports on or discusses that claim," a Google spokesman told the Washington Examiner.

Google will, however, ban monetized content that contradicts the scientific consensus on climate change, as defined by the United Nations's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to suggest the climate is not warming or that human activity has not contributed to it.

The U.N. IPCC, citing top climate scientists from around the world, declared in August, "It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred."

Some notable climate change skeptics with scientific expertise are likely to be banned if they put up ads or try to monetize content featuring their beliefs on Google or YouTube.

One such example would be Richard Lindzen, an emeritus professor of meteorology at MIT, who has said in the past that the consensus on climate change is “propaganda” and that believing climate change is largely caused by increases in carbon dioxide is “pretty close to believing in magic.”

Google declined to address Lindzen's viewpoints specifically when asked by the Washington Examiner, but a review of its new climate change ad policy suggests he would be in the line of fire.

Google will also change the policy if the scientific consensus, as dictated by the U.N. IPCC and scientific experts at institutions like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, shift their understanding of climate change and what has caused it.

"We are constantly evaluating and updating our policies, taking into account feedback from experts, advertisers, creators, publishers and users," the Google spokesman said. "We also monitor new areas of scientific research and if new consensus emerges on this issue, we will adjust our enforcement accordingly."

Lindzen as an individual scientific expert could not shift the scientific consensus on climate change through his research or writings, Google said. Only an institution like the U.N. IPCC could make that designation.

Ads or monetized content that question the degree to which climate change is occurring or the degree to which humans have caused the Earth to warm will continue to be allowed.

The new policy will be implemented next month using a combination of automated computer tools and human review.


First Amendment scholars say that the tremendous power and reach of platforms like YouTube pose thorny problems in regards to free speech.

"Given how much power YouTube and other platforms have in our public debates, it's troubling that so much really important social policy is being dictated by advertising and brand safety," said Kyle Langvardt, a First Amendment scholar at the University of Nebraska who focuses on the internet's implications for free speech.

Google says that the new misinformation policy was prompted by its advertising and publisher partners not wanting ads that run alongside or promote inaccurate claims about climate change.

"Being cornered into enforcing the scientific consensus is not good. We should try to restructure our media environment to ensure that isn’t necessary in the first place," Langvardt added.

By reducing the amount of control and sway YouTube has over public conversations, Langvardt said, the government and people concerned about climate change would have less fear of false information on the platform spreading far and wide.

He said that society should be "targeting the business model of platforms up front, rather than imposing draconian solutions in the aftermath."

As an alternative to censorship, Langvardt suggested reducing the power of targeted advertising on social media, curbing engagement-based algorithms, and putting an end to addictive features like YouTube's autoplay.


Earlier this year, Congress introduced legislation that would help the news industry band together to negotiate with large online platforms such as Google and Facebook for better compensation for their content.

Washington Examiner Videos

Tags: News, Policy, Misinformation, Climate Change, YouTube, Big Tech, Google, Global Warming, online commerce, ads, Advertising

Original Author: Nihal Krishan

Original Location: Google crackdown will affect any user contradicting consensus on climate change