Google Is Promoting Climate Change Denialism On Its Apps And Mobile Homepage

Rob Stark
4 min readMay 20, 2020

In July, Tommaso Boggia, a climate activist turned programmer, swiped to the Google Discover tab on his phone to scan the headlines the corporate had algorithmically selected for him. He was shocked to seek out a global climate change denial website prominently featured in his feed. subsequent day, it happened again.

Boggia didn’t click on the link — which led to a blog post titled “Bipartisan Panel of Scientists Confirms Humans aren’t liable for Past 20,000 Years of worldwide Warming” that disputes our current climate crisis. Discover promises to “surface relevant content to you,” so why was it showing him articles disputing the overwhelming scientific consensus on human-caused global warming?

“Google is aiding and abetting the promulgation of climate science misinformation.”

on the Google search app, and on the Google mobile homepage. of these individuals — who were either curious about global climate change or held environmental jobs — questioned why Google was uncovering and promoting content from such sources, which ranged from an anti–climate change lobbyist’s website to a private blog espousing the “global warming hypocrisy.”

In recent months, Google has faced mounting criticism from the general public and lawmakers for its role in spreading misinformation, including flat Earth conspiracies and anti-vaccination videos, and for the shortage of transparency round the algorithms that prioritize that content. And while the corporate has taken steps to combat conspiracies and bogus science on its properties, including YouTube, its active pushing of global climate change denialism on Discover concerns climate researchers, who believe the search and advertising giant features a duty to stop the spread of false information.

“Google is aiding and abetting the promulgation of climate science misinformation,” said Robert Brulle, a sociology professor that specialize in ecology at Drexel University and Brown University . “They are unwittingly spreading misinformation and that they need to take responsibility for that.”

A Google spokesperson declined to answer specific questions on how Discover, which is employed by quite 800 million people a month, selects information sources, noting only that it had been curated “via algorithm.” given an example of a climate denier site that was being promoted on Discover, a page titled “The Deplorable Climate Science Blog,” the spokesperson said the corporate would “take action against the site” for violating policies around “transparency” and directed BuzzFeed News to a group of rules for publishers on Google News — a completely different product. The spokesperson didn’t clarify if Google considered or categorized the global climate change denier site as news.

These blogs are spewing “denial 101,” said Kert Davies, a climate activist and director of Climate Investigations Center. “They want people to lose faith within the science or have uncertainty around science,” he said.

Deplorable Climate Science Blog at the highest of his Discover feed last month. a couple of days later — just above a CNN story about the Amazon fires — the Google service served him a post titled “The Iconic Image of the worldwide Warming Movement may be a Fraud” from a publication called the Mike Smith Enterprises Blog.

While Discover users can tailor the topics they’d wish to see on their feeds, the service also curates supported a person’s search and web browsing history. McDaniel told BuzzFeed News he had never visited or maybe heard of Deplorable Climate Science Blog or Mike Smith Enterprises Blog. But when he reviewed his Discover settings, he found Google had served him that content because it had determined he was curious about “global warming.”

“It’s spectacularly good at surfacing content that it thinks has relevancy to me immediately ,” McDaniel said, adding that Discover has fed him college basketball scores and proposals for Amsterdam when it knew he was visiting the town . Climate crisis denialism was one among the few aberrations McDaniel has seen, something he believed was surfaced to him because Google’s algorithms have categorized it as relevant information about heating.

Concluding note

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Rob Stark

“Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology.”