Last October, Google/YouTube updated their advertising policy to "prohibit ads for, and monetization of, content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change. This includes content referring to climate change as a hoax or a scam, claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming, and claims denying that greenhouse gas emissions or human activity contribute to climate change."
After a few months, researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate followed up to see how effective the policy was and found it lacking: "the company ran ads on at least 50 posts undermining climate science," reported Cat Zakrzweksi. Also, in December of 2021, Bastien Carniel examined a small sample of climate disinfo content on YouTube and found, "about 50% of the videos that contain misinformation according to Climate Feedback are still monetized on YouTube."
Now, perhaps two months wasn't enough time for Google to figure out how to catch climate disinfo and remove it from YouTube and its ad placement business. Sure, one could argue that Big Tech companies should figure out how to implement rules before announcing them, but what can we say, we just love giving multi-billion dollar corporations the benefit of the doubt that they’re merely incompetent and not actively deceiving the public about their policies regarding those who use their platforms to actively deceive the public.
So imagine our surprise when ten months after their announcement, we're still seeing lots of monetized climate disinformation on YouTube! And not because we're looking closely at YouTube and searching for it, but just in the course of monitoring disinfo generally, it's obvious!
And it's not subtle stuff or accidentally misleading content from well-meaning posters. Instead, it's content from professional propagandists like Glenn Beck, who you may recall was one of the chief spreaders of conspiracy theories about President Obama (calling him a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people") and once even trying to auction an Obama figurine in a jar full of urine (actually beer, even that was a lie).
Beck later apologized for his conspiracies and hatemongering, and then recanted on that apology and is thoroughly, as the kids might say, back on his bullshit.
And it's evident in his YouTube videos on climate change, calling it a pretense for the "Great Reset" in a recent video YouTube is allowing him to sell ads on. And it's not a one-off; a video with Vivek Ramaswamy, the Alex Jones of Investing, is also monetized, selling ads that profit both Beck and YouTube.
Nor is Beck the only professional disinfo spreader who YouTube's helping out. John Stossel, who got $1.5 million in Koch cash between 2017 and 2019, is also running ads on his YouTube videos, including one called "The Paris Climate Fraud" from 2018, and a more recent one where he attacks climate science, among other things. According to his guest Andrew Follett, formerly of the Koch-funded Daily Caller, because rightwing pranksters and critics have slipped fake papers through peer-review, that means "new fields like fat studies, African studies, Latinx studies, queer studies, are essentially entirely fake."
Even beyond climate change, does Google want to defend this claim, that the study of Africa is "essentially entirely fake?"
Speaking of not-so-subtle racism, there's also Alex Epstein, fossil fuel lover of 'I'm not racist, I just think white culture is superior' fame. He's been on multiple YouTube channels presenting his pro-fossil-fuels disinformation, and again and again and again and again they're monetized.
Saving the "best" for last, though, our favorite has to be The Crigler Show's interview with Naomi Seibt. It's a nearly two hour conversation with Seibt, who was being built up by the tobacco and fossil fuel frontgroup Heartland as an "Anti-Greta", until they found out she's affiliated with Germany's faaaar-right party, liked marching with Neo-Nazis, and considers a white nationalist an inspiration.
The best (worst) part? YouTube has already banned Seibt for violating their Community Guidelines! And it doesn't take a lot of sleuthing to figure that out- Crigler included a link to Seibt's defunct YouTube channel in the description!
Now, we're not a multi-billion dollar company with hundreds (thousands?) of the world's best and brightest computer coders and other experts at our disposal, but if we can so easily find examples of Google failing to enforce its policies, why can't they?