Google will block advertising supporting coronavirus conspiracy theories, delete advertisements from pages creating such theories, and demonetize whole domains that repeatedly violate the policy from August 18. Earlier today, CNBC announced the story, adding it applies to an international prohibition on monetizing misleading scientific myths.
A spokesman for Google said the latest guidelines would include pages that dispute an “authoritative scientific consensus” on the coronavirus pandemic. Although Google is now demonetizing fake health statements, it will do the same shortly with misleading allegations regarding the source of the virus. The regulation does not extend on pages debunking or commenting on the nature of such myths and it will not refer on conspiracy theories that are not linked to coronavirus.
“We are putting additional safeguards in place by expanding our harmful health claims policies for both publishers and advertisers to include dangerous content about a health crisis that contradicts scientific consensus,” a spokeswoman informed The Verge.
Google and other major platforms dealt with a continually changing world of knowledge (and misinformation) around the pandemic. In March, the corporation prohibited all non-governmental coronavirus-related groups but reversed the prohibition following appeals from Democratic party organisations. It’s even demonetized YouTube pandemic videos, a move it’s taken on other controversial issues too. Then in the wake of drug shortages that emerged early in the pandemic, it immediately prohibited advertisements for the selling of face masks — a move later followed by Facebook.
It remains uncertain how much content remains in breach of Google’s latest guidelines and how it will demonetize individual sites. For example, The Epoch Times — a publication that has widely circulated COVID-19 conspiracies — hosts Google advertising at present. High-profile ad removals have generated outrage in the past, including a partial demonetization of the controversial Zero Hedge site in the comments section over systemic bigotry. Last week, Google announced that it had resumed ads on the web following improvements in moderation.