Google To Start Banning COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Advertising Content

July 17, 2020

Google is set to begin banning ads from publishers pushing content that contradicts scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tech giant said Friday that it will begin prohibiting “dangerous content,” such as the claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is “an attempt to genetically modify the population,” starting August 18, 2020.

Google said it will remove ads from pages that promote theories that aren’t supported by “authoritative scientific consensus” about the health crisis and its origins. Additionally, advertisers will not be allowed to create their own ads that promote coronavirus conspiracy theories.

The company already prohibits the monetization of harmful medical misinformation, such as claims about “miracle” health cures or treatments or ads promoting the anti-vaccine movement. The policy update announced Friday builds upon the company’s existing efforts to combat misinformation.

Tech giants clamping down on misinformation

Regulators recently sent letters to a number of major tech companies requesting actions to curb a “troubling rise of false or misleading information related to COVID-19.”

“This disinformation has ranged from false statements about certain groups being immune from contracting the virus to unsubstantiated assertions about masks and vaccines,” a group of Democratic lawmakers said in letters to Google, Facebook, and Twitter last week. “This type of disinformation is dangerous and can affect the health and well-being of people who use this false information to make critical health decisions during this pandemic.”

Facebook has announced that it plans to roll out a new “Facts About Covid-19” section to dispel common but inaccurate myths about the virus, such as the one that drinking bleach will cure the virus or that hydroxychloroquine can cure, treat, or prevent the illness. Facebook has also launched notifications encouraging everyone to wear a mask and has begun labeling misleading posts about the virus as false.

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