Google Campus in California, United States Photo: Getty Images

Google bans COVID-19 conspiracy theory advert content August

* Tech giants are continuing to fight misinformation about the health crisis

* Set to prohibit ‘dangerous content’ about COVID-19 vaccines on platform

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

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

The tech giant said Friday, July 17, 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, according to ConsumerAffairs.

Google said it would remove adverts 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.

Report indicates that the company already prohibits the monetisation 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.

As tech giants are clamping down on misinformation in cyberspace, 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.

“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,” a group of US Democratic lawmakers said in letters to Google, Facebook, and Twitter recently.

In a decisive move, 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.

The social media giant has also launched notifications encouraging everyone to wear a mask and has begun labelling misleading posts about the virus as false.

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