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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

UN: Africa's glaciers to disappear by 2040s from climate change

Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania partially covered by clouds in December 2009. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Glaciers capping three of Africa's iconic mountains — Mount Kenya in Kenya, the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania — will likely disappear over the next two decades because of human-induced climate change, the World Meteorological Organization's estimated in a new report Tuesday.

Why it matters: The WMO warned that glacier loss is just one effect climate change will have on the continent, as rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, rising sea levels and more extreme weather will also likely exacerbate food insecurity, economic and political instability and population displacement.

23 hours ago - Technology

Facebook doubling down on curated News Tab

Facebook's VP of global news partnerships Campbell Brown. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook is looking to introduce more news products for its News Tab in coming months, including more curated collections around big events and breaking news, its VP of global news partnerships Campbell Brown told Axios.

Why it matters: The News Tab, a separate destination for news on Facebook from publishers selected by the tech giant, has helped the company address regulatory scrutiny that it doesn't do enough to combat misinformation.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.