Google has broken its promise to stop running ads on climate denial

New research shows Google has broken its promise to stop running ads on climate denial content

In a high-profile announcement in advance of COP26, designed to showcase its contribution to the global effort against climate change, Google promised to stop monetizing climate denial content through its Google Ads business, starting 9 November 2021.

But new research by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) shows that Google Ads are still running on 50 new climate denial articles. All were published after 8 November 2021 and are from 14 different publishers.

The 50 articles reached 48,761 interactions on Facebook.

In the run up to COP26 the Center for Countering Digital Hate published its Toxic Ten report that showed social media posts linking to articles from just 10 ‘super polluter’ publishers account for up to 69% of Facebook interactions with climate denial content. The examples collected include articles from 5 publishers that are part of these “Toxic Ten”.

Articles still carrying ads include:

  • A Breitbart article claiming Global Warming is not real and “a hoax”
  • A Breitbart article that called COP26 “a gigantic eco-fascist gaslighting operation”
    and claimed that “groundless” environmental scare stories are being used to “terrify
    us into submission”
  • An Electroverse article claiming “there are no credible scientists warning of a ‘climate emergency’ — not a single one.”
  • A Western Journal article claiming “Whether the climate is changing — and whether it is caused by man — are questions not answered definitively.”
  • Numerous articles attacking climate science as “alarmism”

The Toxic Ten’s websites have received nearly 1.1 billion visits in the last six months prior to COP26, earning those that are part of Google’s AdSense platform an estimated $3.6 million in revenue.

Imran Ahmed, Chief Executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said:

Climate change denial is a cynical strategy that seeks to delay the action needed to prevent ecological disaster.

In making their initial announcement, Google appears to recognise that they have played a part in making climate change denial a profitable business, and yet they have not followed through with real action.

Google’s motto used to be ‘do no evil’; it appears though, there was a caveat: unless it makes Google a buck or two.

Michael Khoo, co-chair of the climate change disinformation coalition at Friends of the Earth, said:

It appears Google is spreading disinformation about its efforts to fight disinformation. Why is Google continuing to let climate denial be profitable after promising in October they would put an end to it?

It’s bad enough Google hosts so much climate denial on YouTube, but it’s even worse if they’re lying about their reforms. Google must do much more to stop the spread of climate denial.

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, (202) 222-0746, [email protected]

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