Youtube reduced tolerance to misinformation now extends to climate science. Google service has adopted a new policy banning ads and monetization for content that contradicts the “well-established scientific consensus” surrounding climate change, including videos that claim climate change is a hoax or reject the human connection to global warming. YouTube will begin enforcing the policy in November.
The company said it would allow ads for videos dealing with these bogus claims as well as other climate-related topics, such as the exact degree of human impact or debates over climate policy. YouTube bases its judgments on “authoritative” expertise, including contributors to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The company didn’t hesitate to justify the decision: Advertisers just don’t want their ads to tie into climate change denial material, and creators don’t want those ads on their pages. YouTube worries about losing customers and abandoning monetization for false science is an easy way to avoid this loss.
This effort does not go so far as to ban denial of climate change, although this is not surprising. Unlike anti-vaccine misinformation, denial of climate change carries no risk of short-term harm. YouTube can keep content visible for the purposes of debate and expression without worrying that it will lead directly to disease. This won’t stop science deniers from switching to other platforms or using their videos to sell products like books, but it could discourage “occasional” attempts to profit from climate misinformation.
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