Google To Curb Fake Climate News

Nov 4, 2021 By Caitlyn C, Writer Intern
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This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is a reminder of the dangers of fake news.

For the first time since 1935, two journalists were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitri A. Muratov of Russia. They were recognized for fighting for the freedom of expression by exposing propaganda in two countries where freedom of the press is threatened. Both Ressa and Muratov have been arrested multiple times.

Yet, even in the U.S, misinformation is prominent, particularly on the topic of climate change. In a recent congressional hearing, big oil company executives attempted to downplay their role in climate change misinformation.

Meanwhile, Google has taken notice of the increase of misinformation on climate change in its content and advertisements.

The Role Of Oil Companies

On October 28, members of the U.S Congress questioned oil company executives on the alleged disinformation campaign on climate change.

By the 1970s, fossil fuel companies had been made aware of the harm fossil fuels play in global warming. In fact, there is evidence that these companies engaged climate scientists for the study and formed a task force. However, since then, they have suppressed the study results and misled the public by promoting fake science, harassing scientists, and casting doubt on the role fossil fuels play in global warming.

To avoid public scrutiny, these companies find ways to indirectly fund misinformation. The companies donate to organizations such as the Heartland Institute or the American Petroleum Institute (API), which deny climate change and lobby against environmental policies. 

At the recent hearing, the oil companies acknowledged global warming but did not pledge to address climate change misinformation. 

A Ban By Google

Recently, advertisers and content creators have been frustrated over ads denying climate change on their content. In response, Google and YouTube have announced a policy that will not allow content creators to profit from content or advertisements that promote climate misinformation.

Under this policy, advertisements that will be banned include those that portray climate change as a hoax, deny global warming trends, or question the role of human activity and greenhouse gas emissions.

Google’s new policy is one of the most ambitious policies that technology platforms are working on to help combat climate misinformation. The company will be implementing this policy through automated tools and human reviews. Many hope that this policy will encourage other large technology platforms such as Facebook to implement similar policies to combat misinformation.

Sources: BBC, Axios, Poynter, ucsuca.org, arstechnica, Washington Post