Google will prevent messages about COVID-19 that contradict scientific consensus from running in ads through its platforms beginning in August.
The updated policy adds to a ban on content
that makes harmful claims about disease prevention and unsubstantiated cures, such as content that encourages viewers to forgo treatments or anti-vaccine promotions.
Google seems to provide
rolling updates as the pandemic forces changes to lifestyles and government regulations.
In April, Google said it would begin allowing government entities, hospitals, medical providers and
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to run ads in search related to COVID-19.
Originally, Google had banned ads related to the virus to prevent brands and companies from taking advantage of
consumer vulnerabilities. The engine was concerned that advertisers would buy ads and price gouge on necessities, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer or sell fake coronavirus tests — or spread
misinformation through search ads.
Google’s latest ban will prohibit content that “contradicts authoritative scientific consensus,” according to updated guidelines the
company released on Friday. The news originally reported by CNBC earlier in the day.
The decision follows a report in early July by the Global Disinformation Index that estimates Google unknowingly directs $19.2 million to websites
that spread COVID-19 misinformation through their digital advertising platforms.
Google’s new policy will also bar advertisers from creating their own ads that promote pandemic
conspiracy theories. Only certain companies or government agencies will have the ability to run ads about the COVID-19, including government organizations and healthcare providers.