July 17, 2020 / 5:18 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Google bans ads on coronavirus conspiracy theory content

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By Sheila Dang

July 17 (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it would prohibit websites and apps that use its advertising technology from running ads on “dangerous content” that goes against scientific consensus during the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s largest search engine updated its policy as the health crisis has continued to rage throughout the United States, and digital advertising giants like Google and Facebook Inc have faced calls to do more to clamp down on misinformation.

Content not allowed to make money from ads include debunked conspiracy theories, such as the notion that the novel coronavirus was created in a Chinese lab as a bioweapon, that it was created by Microsoft Corp founder Bill Gates, or that the virus is a hoax, Google said in a statement.

Google already bars ads with harmful content like “miracle” health cures or which promote the anti-vaccination movement. It also prevents ads from running on publisher content that encourages those topics.

Google’s new policy will also bar advertisers from creating their own ads that promote coronavirus conspiracy theories.

Google allows only certain institutions to run ads about the coronavirus pandemic, including government organizations and healthcare providers, to prevent activities like price-gouging on medical supplies.

Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Dan Grebler and Richard Chang

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