Sep 27, 2023
Some social media accounts claim that global warming is a hoax. Some also prop up debunked conspiracy theories. Both actions can muddy earnest debates about how to combat climate change. And while social media sites say they work to prevent climate misinformation from reaching users, most miss the mark. This is according to a new study from over 50 environmental groups.
The groups form an organization called Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD). They published their report this month. CAAD graded the major social media sites on how well they deal with climate misinformation. It used a 21-item scale. It awarded points for having a definition of climate misinformation. It also gave companies credit for having a way that users could point out climate misinfo when they saw it.
Of the so-called “Big Tech” companies reviewed, photo hosting site Pinterest scored highest. It notched 12 points. It earned praise for keeping user data safe and stopping advertisers from making money off of climate misinfo. TikTok scored 9 points. Facebook parent company Meta scored 8. YouTube got 6. Coming in last, with only a single point? Billionaire Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter.
Why did Twitter/X score so low? In the study, CAAD noted the site's lack of "clear policies" that address climate misinfo. The site's absence of "public transparency" tools was a reason, too. So was its missing evidence of "policy enforcement." CAAD stated that Twitter/X used to have better policies. But since being bought by Musk, it has been unclear which policies are still in place.
To conclude, CAAD called for lawmakers to “mandate that Big Tech align their policies” to curb the spread of climate misinfo.
Reflect: Do you feel you are able to easily identify climate misinformation on social media? What are some of the things you look for when identifying misinformation online?
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