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Google's YouTube Walks Back Its Ban on Coronavirus Video Ads

By Donna Fuscaldo - Mar 12, 2020 at 3:35PM

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YouTube had barred creators from making money off coronavirus videos but now it's relenting as the outbreak rages on.

Alphabet's (GOOG 1.66%) (GOOGL 1.77%) YouTube is doing an about-face and will now allow ads to run alongside coronavirus videos. 

YouTube's CEO Susan Wojcicki said in a blog post it will begin allowing some creators to monetize coronavirus related content. Up until yesterday, YouTube had placed coronavirus videos in its sensitive events policy. Under that rule, ads can't run alongside the video if it has even one mention of coronavirus. The policy was designed to be used for the short term such as following a natural disaster, Wojcicki said. 

"It's becoming clear this issue is now an ongoing and important part of everyday conversation, and we want to make sure news organizations and creators can continue producing quality videos in a sustainable way," wrote Wojcicki.

Image of coronavirus cells.

Image source: Getty Images.

YouTube will now allow a limited number of coronavirus videos to have ads including news partners and creators who "self-certify." YouTube plans to expand the new policy to more creators in the coming weeks. For the fourth quarter, Google broke out sales for YouTube for the first time, reporting $15 billion in annual ad revenue.

YouTube's policy changes come as the company and other Internet platforms grapple with how to keep false information and fake coronavirus ads from spreading. Google has a policy in place that bans any ads that hawk products related to coronavirus but that hasn't stopped much of it. Earlier this week Google told CNBC it was temporarily banning all ads for medical face masks and is looking at other coronavirus related product ad bans. The medical community has urged consumers to stop purchasing surgical masks because it's creating a shortage for health professionals.

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