Google to ban ads, articles promoting conspiracy theories about COVID-19

Google intends to bar websites and apps that use its advertising technology for promoting conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 on its platform, according to CNBC.

The world’s largest search engine will also remove ads from pages that promote such theories, as well as remove the ability of publishers who share conspiratory content to monetize their websites.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the new terms of conditions will focus on websites that categorically dispute “authoritative scientific consensus” surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Google already censors and demonetizes advertisements that spread harmful falsehoods about disease prevention or promote unproven treatment advice, such as ads supporting the anti-vaccination movement or “miracle” health cures, among others. Google also prevents advertisements from running on publisher content falling into this category.

And now, the new condition will expand on the pre-existing terms to include the prohibition of spreading “debunked” conspiracy theories, such as the notion that COVID-19 was created as a bioweapon in a Chinese lab, that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is somehow responsible for the global pandemic or that the virus is a hoax, Google said in a statement.

The social media giant will also prevent publishers from creating “false” advertisements that assert these theories as well.

Google currently only allows certain coronavirus-related ads to run on its platform, such as content published by government organizations or healthcare providers – meant to prevent certain activities such as the price-gouging of medical supplies.

Google will start actively enforcing the change when the new terms go into effect on August 18. At its discretion, the company can remove ads in a single article or for an entire site, according to CNBC.