YouTube Urged To Censor Climate Change Skeptics

YouTube logo | Image by Alexey Boldin/Shutterstock

A new study produced by the Center for Countering Digital Hate is pushing YouTube to step up efforts to censor climate skepticism.

The study, released on Tuesday, highlights YouTube’s parent company, Google, and its policies that demonetize content that questions if climate change exists. De-monetization is when YouTube takes away a content producer’s ability to earn ad revenue on a specific video or an entire content channel.

De-monetization has been heavily criticized as a means for tech executives to silence or discourage speech that does not fit a “family-friendly” narrative, per change.org.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) studied over 12,000 YouTube videos discussing climate change that were posted from 2018 to 2023 and broke them down into categories that distinguished between different types of climate change skepticism. Content was classified as either “old denial” or “new denial.”

CCDH’s research found that “old denial” fell substantially while “new denial” increased substantially from 2018 to 2023. The study specifically highlighted prominent YouTube channels like Jordan Peterson, BlazeTV, and PragerU as purveyors of “new denial.”

The center then called for YouTube and its parent company, Google, to censor platforms that engage in so-called “new denial” criticisms.

“… CCDH calls on Google to expand its policy to also demonetize content that contradicts the authoritative scientific consensus on the ‘causes, impacts, and solutions’ to climate change,” demanded the press release.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) offered support for the enhanced internet censorship.

“These platforms must take ownership of the falsehoods and mischief they propagate. The stakes are too high to be – even at this late hour – aiding and abetting polluters’ ‘new and improved’ climate disinformation narratives,” Whitehouse stated in the press release.

Functionally, the CCDH’s proposal would suspend open dialogue on energy policy. Criticism of the efficacy of electric vehicles, the reliability of solar or wind power production, or humanity’s contribution to climate change would be censored.

YouTube maintains 2.5 billion monthly active users, making it the second-largest social media platform on the internet. Enhanced censorship on the platform would dramatically curtail open debate regarding energy policies that impact Americans’ daily lives. The issue is especially relevant given the record-shattering utility bills that Texans are facing.

YouTube’s spokesman, Nate Funkhouser, responded to the report by defending the platform’s existing censorship policies in a statement provided to NBC News.

“Our climate change policy prohibits ads from running on content that contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change.”

An opinion piece published by The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board identifies the potential impacts of such censorship.

“It’s a bad sign when one side of a political debate demands to cut off the microphones of the people on the other — and the tech censors these days are almost uniformly progressives,” the publication wrote.

“On climate change, the disinformation tag gets liberally applied even to people who agree that it’s real, caused by fossil fuels, and a problem… but who also think humanity can adapt, apocalyptic predictions are overwrought, or subsidies for green energy are a poor investment.

“‘We need the tech companies to really jump in,’ White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said [in June 2022]. Dissent has shifted from climate-change ‘denial’ to ‘the values of solar energy, the values of wind energy,’ she continued, but ‘that is equally dangerous to denial.’

“In other words, censorship must increase the more the public resists the climate lobby’s preferred solutions,” the WSJ concluded.

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