Google's Discover feed has promoted content that denies climate change to readers, according to a report published by BuzzFeed News on September 5.
About a year ago, Google released an updated tool to tailor the content feed in its apps and mobile browser home page. The Discover feed, Google said in its launch announcement, "makes exploring your interests easier than ever."
BuzzFeed News spoke with eight people who saw articles on their feeds that disprove climate science. Every one of the people he spoke to works in an environmental field or is interested in climate change.
The content that users reported seeing had titles like "Bipartisan panel of scientists confirms that humans are NOT responsible for the last 20,000 years of global warming." In reality, mountains of evidence have led to a scientific consensus pointing to humans as the culprits of climate change. .
"Mountains of evidence have led to a scientific consensus pointing to humans as the culprits of climate change"
Google's search tool and feed are supposed to help users find the information that will be most “useful”. The company assures users that it works with external search quality evaluators to assess "how well a website performs to people who click on what they are looking for." and evaluate the quality of the results based on the experience, authority and reliability of the content ”. Their search page is one of the most trafficked websites in the world.
Viewing inaccurate or misleading content about climate change on a trusted platform like Google can surprise at best and misinform at worst. H. Curtis Spalding, an environmental professor at Brown University who previously worked as a regional administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, told BuzzFeed News that when he saw a blog denying climate change on Discover, “at first, I they confused ”. Spalding clicked on one that he thought might be credible. After that, he said, similar content appeared on his feed.
Sending content that denies climate change to users is not exactly the image that Google wants to project. It has several initiatives to combat climate change on construction sites. Last year, it started an initiative that estimates the carbon footprint of individual cities, and in 2017, it pledged to buy as much renewable energy as it uses. By the following year, he had exceeded that goal. The company prides itself on "making decisions that have an impact beyond our walls," he said in a blog post in June. However, Google was also criticized earlier this year for financially supporting a conference that featured a talk focused on denying climate change.
Google did not respond to a request for comment from The Verge.