Climate Change

Activists claim Google profits off climate misinformation on YouTube

The Climate Action Against Disinformation group says Google is not following its own practices by allowing ads on certain YouTube videos.

YouTube app on an iPad
Patrick Semansky/AP
SMS

The Climate Action Against Disinformation group recently released a report slamming Google for profiting off climate misinformation. 

In its report, it claimed researchers found 200 YouTube videos containing climate misinformation as of April 17, 2023. These videos contained ads and had been seen by 73.8 million viewers. Brands like Costco, Politico and Tommy Hilfiger were among those used in advertisements.

Google owns and operates YouTube.

Google has policies that outline its misinformation policy. Generally, those policies focus on things that could cause harm to an individual, such as medical misinformation. 

In 2021, Google said it would update its policy on climate misinformation. 

“(The policy) will prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change. 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,” Google said in 2021. 

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The Climate Action Against Disinformation, however, said Google is not following its own policies. “This research shows that YouTube is failing to keep its promise to stop profiting from climate denial, and is profiting from a wider range of climate disinformation that falls outside of its existing, narrowly-defined policy,” the group said. 

One example the Climate Action Against Disinformation gave was a line from The Heartland Institute’s channel that says “climate change science really isn’t a science at all.” Another example given was from a line in a Cutting Through the Noise video that claims “there is no link between CO2 and temperature.”

A message has been left with Google.