Google’s Ad Ban on Climate Skeptics Is About Politics, Not Environment
Google says skeptics of what the company determines to be “scientific consensus” about climate change will be prevented from making money or spreading so-called “misinformation” on YouTube, a major decision that tech experts say is motivated more by politics than sincere environmental concerns.
The tech behemoth announced the policy change in a Thursday blog post that noted the change will “prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change,” and is slated to affect YouTube video creators, advertisers, and publishers.
Critics immediately questioned whether the move was yet another example of a big tech company working in lockstep with the Democratic Party’s agenda to silence those who have the “wrong” thoughts about a debatable issue.
Steve Milloy, a former Trump EPA transition member and the founder of JunkScience.com, said the forthcoming policy “does nothing but validate what climate realists have been saying for years: It’s not about the climate; it’s about the political power.”
“If what we were saying was wrong, we would have been laughed off the Internet long ago,” he said. “Instead, reality is validating us and public support for climate idiocy is going nowhere.”
The new Google policy applies to any content that it determines calls climate change a hoax or denies that greenhouse gas emissions and human activity have contributed to the overall warming of the earth.
Google’s ad team said a “growing number” of its “advertising and publisher partners” have expressed concerns in recent years about “ads that run alongside or promote inaccurate claims about climate change.”
The company says that advertisers don’t want their ads showing up next to content that denies climate change, and publishers and creators don’t want the content to appear on their pages or videos.
Milloy believes the change, which is set to go into effect in November, will “have no effect on climate realist websites for the simple reason that the ad revenue is pretty trivial.”
I don’t know of any climate realist who blogs for the Google ad revenue…
“I don’t know of any climate realist who blogs for the Google ad revenue,” he said. “We do it because we oppose the abuse of science, especially as it is being used to advance totalitarianism.”
Google said it will use a mix of both automated tools and human reviewers to enforce the policy. It says it will “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” when it evaluates content.
While Google may be responding to pressure from climate activists to “do more,” critics say the policy is another reason why the publisher shouldn’t be protected by Sec. 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a controversial protection afforded to tech companies that shields them from being sued over content that users post on their site.
Marketing and big tech expert Adam Rizzieri called the new policy “par for the course” when it comes to tech organizations protecting the speech of the “elite, VIP class of users, while rapidly silencing and de-platforming all others.”
“Google routinely allows politically divisive issues to dictate how its platforms operate and what its users can do and say,” Rizzieri said. “Unlike private companies, Google wields the de facto power of a government entity and therefore abuses its power in how it actively silences the free speech of users, spanning from daily users to renowned thought leaders.”
When it comes to YouTube, he said the video platform has already “routinely demonetized or suspended credentialed, industry experts” on other topics.
“They target your average YouTube user, but they also go after thought leaders – including Nobel Prize winners and actual history makers,” he said. “When YouTube’s enforcement teams believe themselves to know more than Nobel Prize winners and legal thought leaders like Alan Dershowitz, we have a big problem.”
When YouTube’s enforcement teams believe themselves to know more than Nobel Prize winners and legal thought leaders like Alan Dershowitz, we have a big problem.
Because policies like these “actively violate the First Amendment rights of everyone,” Rizzieri said big tech companies “should not get to enjoy Section 230 immunities.”
James Taylor, the president of the Illinois-based thinktank The Heartland Institute, says concerns about actions like those taken by Google have led 33 states to push legislation in a bid to combat censorship and free speech concerns. Florida and Texas have already had two of those bills signed into law.
“Google and Big Tech are perpetrating Digital Age book-burning,” Taylor said, adding, “It is now The People versus Big Tech — and they brought it upon themselves.”
Milloy added, “Google’s demonetization is an admission that we are winning, a treasure far more valuable than Google ad revenue.”
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