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Photo by Olly Curtis/Future via Getty Images

Google and YouTube on Thursday announced a new policy that prohibits climate deniers from being able to monetize their content on its platforms via ads or creator payments.

Why it matters: It's one of the most aggressive measures any major tech platform has taken to combat climate change misinformation.

Details: Google advertisers and publishers, as well as YouTube creators, will be prohibited from making ad revenue off content that contradicts "well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change," the company's ads team said in a statement.

  • "This includes content referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change."
  • Ads and monetization will still be allowed to run alongside other climate-related topics, like public debates on climate policy, impacts of climate change, and new research around the issue.

Google said it's making these changes in response to frustration from advertisers and content creators about their messages appearing alongside climate denialism.

  • "Advertisers simply don’t want their ads to appear next to this content. And publishers and creators don’t want ads promoting these claims to appear on their pages or videos," the company said.

Yes, but: Google often makes changes to its ads policies to reduce misinformation, but this update is notable, given how hard it can be to characterize certain commentary about climate change as denialism or misinformation.

  • The tech giant says that when evaluating content against the new 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."
  • The company says it has consulted with experts, like representatives of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports, to create the policy. The report found that there is "unequivocal" evidence showing that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing global warming."
  • Google says it will use a combination of automated tools and human review to enforce the new policy.

The big picture: Internet companies have been under increased pressure from climate activists to do more to address climate change denial on their platforms.

  • Google on Wednesday unveiled a suite of new tools that give consumers more information so they can choose to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In February, Facebook expanded an online portal meant to counter misinformation about climate change.

Why it matters: Social media platforms have immense reach, and they've come under fire from activists and some lawmakers globally for doing too little to thwart the spread of inaccurate content.

What to watch: Google will begin enforcing the new policy next month.

Go deeper

Obama to attend UN climate summit in Glasgow

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center at Jackson Park on September 28, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski / AFP

Former President Barack Obama will travel to Glasgow next month for the UN climate summit, CNN reports.

Driving the news: Obama will meet with young climate change advocates and "urge more robust action going forward by all of us — governments, the private sector, philanthropy, and civil society," according to an Obama spokesperson, per CNN.

Definition of success at UN Climate Summit is in flux

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The UN Climate Summit in Glasgow is less than 20 days away, and diplomats have entered a crucial period when expectations are raised or lowered to guard against any blowback that might come from a particular outcome.

Driving the news: Officials in the U.S. and abroad are sending clear signals that the odds that COP26 will meet some of its most important goals are diminishing, for a variety of reasons both macro and micro in scale.

Congress vs. "the algorithm"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The outcry over Congress' latest proposal to regulate tech companies' algorithms shows how difficult it is for lawmakers and platforms alike to deal with online content moderation.

Why it matters: The new bill is backed by the leadership of a powerful committee with jurisdiction over the issue, giving it more momentum than some previous legislative attempts to revamp online platforms' legal protections.