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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

Fossil fuel executives to testify at "landmark" hearing focused on climate disinformation

An oil flare at a BP plant in Whiting, Indiana. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced on Friday it will hold a "landmark" hearing next week with fossil fuel executives focused on the industry's role in spreading climate disinformation.

Why it matters: This is the first time oil company CEOs, and the head of their main trade group, will testify under oath about their knowledge of the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change, per Axios' Andrew Freedman.

Oct 21, 2021 - Technology

Snapchat stock sinks as it warns about Apple changes

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Snapchat's stock fell nearly 25% in after-hours trading Thursday after the tech giant acknowledged that its ad business "was disrupted" by changes to Apple's privacy terms that rolled out in June and July.

Why it matters: Snapchat's quarterly results sent stocks for Google and Facebook down in after-hours trading on fears that their businesses may also be affected by Apple's changes.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.