Google will start banning advertisements related to Covid-19 conspiracy theories starting next month according to reports.
Google will ban ads promoting Coronavirus conspiracy theories and demonetize entire sites that frequently violate the policy starting on August 18th. It will also prevent publishers from advertising on pages that promote such theories.
The search engine giant updated its policy as the health crisis has continued to rage throughout the world, and digital advertising giants like Google and Facebook Inc have faced calls to do more on misinformation.
Google already forbids and does allow ads from running against content that makes harmful claims about Coronavirus prevention and unconfirmed cures, including anti-vaccine promotions or content that encourages users to forgo treatment.
The company has now decided to take a step further and ban ads that make claims going against any scientific consensus. Banned ads will include conspiracy theories like vaccines being attempts to genetically modify the population, the Coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab as a bioweapon or that the virus is a hoax.
Google will implement the change on August 18 and can remove ads from single articles or, in some cases, entire sites. When it comes to removing ads from an entire site, the company said for most of its policies it has a percentage threshold for policy violations before it will fully demonetize a website. The violation of some policies, like one preventing child sex abuse material, is considered by the company to be so egregious that they result in immediate site-level action.
Conspiracy theories around the pandemic which has taken the world by a storm have been harmful in most cases. Platforms such as Twitter have also taken action against content promoting these theories.
Google, Twitter, and other large websites have constantly been struggling with misinformation around the pandemic. Google had briefly banned all non-governmental Coronavirus-related content in March, but it lifted the ban after complaints from Democratic Organizations. Google has also demonetized YouTube videos about the pandemic, a tack it’s taken with many sensitive topics. And amid product shortages early in the pandemic, it temporarily banned ads for the sale of face masks — a policy which the social media giant Facebook also adopted.
It’s unclear how much content currently violates Google’s new rules and whether specific sites would be demonetized under them. Google confirmed last week that it had reinstated the site’s advertising after moderation changes.
Google received nearly USD 135 billion in advertising revenue in the year 2019, in part through programs like AdSense and Ad Manager, in which websites that are approved can run programmatic advertising on their sites and make money using Google. About 15 percent of Google’s revenue in the first quarter came from Google Network Members’ properties, which primarily comes from sites participating in AdMob, AdSense, and Google Ad Manager Programs.