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Google to ban more ads from sites promoting virus conspiracies

Maya Tribbitt

Google said it will block more ads from websites that promote conspiracy theories about COVID-19, starting next month.

The world’s largest internet search prOVIDer will use human and automated reviews to locate and take action against rule-breaking web publishers and advertisers.

The company already has a policy against harmful health claims online, and it has removed more than 200 million ads that were trying to take advantage of the mayhem caused by the pandemic. Friday’s changes are an escalation of Google’s efforts.

Google is acting after a study estimated the company will funnel about $19 million in ad revenue this year to websites publishing misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus.

“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 Google spokesperson said.

The new approach will prohibit content that “contradicts authoritative scientific consensus” during a major health crisis, according to updated guidelines the company released on Friday. CNBC reported the move earlier.

Content contradicted by scientific consensus during the current pandemic includes origin theories, claims the virus was created as a bioweapon or by Bill Gates, as well as content that claims it is a hoax or government-funded.

Google said it will take action against ads that perpetuate misinformation and conspiracies regarding the pandemic. Sites that repeatedly or egregiously violate this policy may be banned from using Google ad platforms, the company said.

Google-owned YouTube has already prohibited monetization of medical misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19.