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Well-heeled climate deniers are buying Youtube ads on major brands' videos

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Some of Youtube's most expensive advertising slots have been purchased by climate denial conspiracy theorists, who have plastered climate denial ads over videos for major brands like "Samsung, Uber, Nintendo, Showtime, Harley Davidson, and Warner Bros" as well as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. The nonprofit advocacy group Avaaz documented the spread of these ads, which take people who click on them to climate denial videos produced by Fox News, Prageru, and other far-right organizations. This is different from the traditional concerns over conspiracy theories and Youtube, which hold that Youtube's engagement-maximization algorithms are prone to recommending ever-more-extreme versions of the message that you're watching at any moment, leading up a smooth gradient from reasonable uncertainty to epistemological chaos in which the only truth is to be found at the feet of Alex Jones or the Daily Stormer. By contrast, these ads were inserted into Youtube users' field of vision through the application of titanic sums of cash, which guaranteed that they would be shown on the service's most popular, influential videos. The implication is that climate denial isn't a fringe conspiracy theory, but rather a commercial strategy of the industries that benefit from it -- primarily hydrocarbon barons like Koch Industries, who have long pumped millions into sowing doubt over climate change in order to reap billions from that doubt. Advertisers currently have the option to prevent their ads from running on any videos that discuss climate change. But they don’t have an option to only run on accurate videos about climate change — it’s all or nothing. Read the rest

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