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World

Report exposes Facebook for spreading climate change misinformation

  • According to a report by InfluenceMap, a U.K. based think-tank, approximately 8 million people have viewed deliberately misinformed advertisements on Facebook, which peddled conspiracy theories like fossil fuels are not a threat to the environment, and that climate change is a “hoax”
Published October 8, 2020
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According to a report by InfluenceMap, a U.K. based think-tank, approximately 8 million people have viewed deliberately misinformed advertisements on Facebook, with 51 climate disinformation ads identified on the platform, which peddled conspiracy theories like fossil fuels are not a threat to the environment, and that climate change is a “hoax”.

The report highlighted that these advertisements were paid for by conservative groups, with the sources of the funds being unclear, but peddling a clear agenda that is favourable to oil and other fossil fuel lobbying groups. In a statement last month, Facebook elaborated that it was “committed to tackling climate misinformation”, and announced the formation of a climate science information centre, adding that “climate change is real - the science is unambiguous and the need to act grows more urgent by the day”.

While Facebook uses fact-checkers and moderators to ban false advertising and online misinformation, in addition to the sheer logistical challenges of governing a massive digital space, the company says that this process “is not meant to interfere with individual expression, opinions and debate”. The report highlights that these climate disinformation advertisements cost as little as $42,000 to run and “boost”, and used a specific target audience of men over the age of 55, mainly centered around rural states in the United States - a demographic that falls under the Republican Party’s key electorate in what as known as the country’s “bible belt”.

What can be seen from the sort of partisan-driven misinformation prevalent on social media platforms, is that having targeted specific conservative audiences across the country, there is a high likelihood that this sort of content is caught within these Republican echo-chambers, with a large audience being highly conducive to believing climate hoax conspiracy theories. Furthermore, the electoral impact of conservative voters not fully throwing their weight behind the agenda of climate change, will only allow a potentially Republican government to facilitate energy lobbies, and subsequently allow little to no meaningful legislation to curb the problem at hand.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that global warming is real, extremely consequential and dangerous, and that greenhouse gas emissions from man-made activities are responsible for the bulk of the damage being done to the environment.

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Report exposes Facebook for spreading climate change misinformation

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