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Google’s Ban on Climate Change - Başak Bozoğlu

Google has come to the fore with a new decision. Advertisements we watch consciously or unconsciously greatly impact our behavior and thought systems in every aspect of our lives. The company earn billions of dollars from its advertising content following hot agendas all over the world. Recently, Google has updated its advertising policies regarding climate change contents.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many anti-vaccine content that lacks scientific knowledge also produced by different organizations through Google Ad system. Spreading false information through a company that has $146.92 billion ad revenue on a health issue that affects the whole world was seen as a major threat. People criticized Google for the spread of false information that can create harmful social impact. In return, Google decided to monitor the advertisements that promote anti-vaccine campaigns which does not based on scientific facts. After the COVID-19 situation, Google now decided to apply the same procedure on climate change issues. The Google Ads team wrote that "in recent years, we've heard directly from a growing number of our advertising and publisher partners who have expressed concerns about ads that run alongside or promote inaccurate claims about climate change." The main purpose is to share and disseminate accurate information, not subjective and unscientific information about climate change.

According to updating, Google advertisers, publishers, YouTube creators will prohibit ads and content that are not based on scientific facts about climate-related topics and climate change actions. With the new policy, Google aims to prevent the monetization through scientifically inaccurate climate change contents that may hinder people's awareness. Google's subsidiary organization YouTube, also will be involved in such a climate change ban for the first time. According to Statista, last year, YouTube's global advertising revenues increased to $19.77 billion from $15.15 billion. Formerly, YouTube banned and limited social tragic events, firearms, tobacco, sexual content, and misinformation that claims COVID vaccines that will kill people, prevent women and men's fertility, and implement microchips on the human body. Lastly, adding false anti-climate change content to the list is an essential step for sharing correct information. Social media companies, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, also join this policy to ban ads on their platforms. According to Avaaz report named “Why is YouTube Broadcasting Climate Misinformation to Millions”, which published in 2020, inappropriate and inaccurate climate videos received more than 21 million views with frequent ads on YouTube. Therefore, the policies that ban access and eliminate these view numbers to these contents can be effective in preventing disinformation about climate.

In fact, Google is the largest digital ads seller, and misinformation is one of the most challenging areas to follow and control. Therefore, questions arose as to how Google would control all climate change misinformation. In the ads and monetization policies on climate change announcement, they claimed that “we will use a combination of automated tools and human review to enforce this policy against violating publisher content, Google-served ads, and YouTube videos that are monetizing via YouTube’s Partner Program." However, YouTube, generally known for its algorithmic decision-making system, does not work with high accuracy. It is already a question of whether Google can control YouTube and its content. According to the “YouTube Regrets” report of the Mozilla Foundation that is published in July 2021, 12,2% of the reported videos contain misinformation and 40% of these videos are accessed through recommendation system. Hence, there is still room for improvement for the companies.

The only step Google has taken is not only about ads, but also Google has been working on sustainability since its establishment in 1998. In 2007, Google achieved become the first significant company to reach carbon neutral, and they have matched 100% of the electricity in their operations with renewable energy. As a major energy consuming company, Google’s actions on climate change create significant impact even alone. Renewable energy, and recycling are critical sources for the buildings, transportation, and gigantic data centers Google and its subsidiaries use. year Google shares its environmental reportand shares charts, progress, and plans both insight and rest of the world. For instance, Google is

*designing efficient data centers to create more energy efficiency, and emission reduction

*providing their centers to carbon-free energy, which was matched 100% of electricity consumption provided with renewable energy since 2019

*creating sustainable workplaces from saving water to food waste prevented

*building better devices and services with recycled or renewable materials.

Although many parties debate the goodwill of companies like Google and YouTube, it is indisputably one of the largest companies in the world. Worldwide more than 3 billion people use Google every day. Thus, every step taken by a company with such an enormous impact on climate change has the power to have a positive effect on the world and people. Preventing advertisements containing false information on climate-related is one of them.


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