Climate Disinformation Rampant on Twitter Following Musk’s Takeover
Climate disinformation has been thriving on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the social media site in October of last year. If you search for “climate” on the site, the first thing that comes up is “climate scam,” reported The Associated Press. Clicking on the suggestion brings up dozens of posts denying climate change and making deceptive claims about efforts to curb it.
The climate crisis disinformation being promoted on Twitter is part of a trend.
“What’s happening in the information ecosystem poses a direct threat to action,” said head of civic action and education at London-based nonprofit the Institute for Strategic Dialogue Jeannie King, as The Associated Press reported. “It plants those seeds of doubt and makes people think maybe there isn’t scientific consensus.”
An alliance of environmental advocacy groups that includes the Institute for Strategic Dialogue released a report Thursday — “Deny, Deceive, Delay Vol. 2: Exposing New Trends in Climate Mis- and Disinformation at COP27” — which follows deceptive information about climate change before, during and after the UN Climate Summit in Egypt last November.
The report said social media outlets aren’t implementing their own climate change disinformation guidelines.
“Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on energy supply chains have renewed anti-climate attacks globally, as vested interests falsely attribute blame for these events to the ‘cult of Net Zero,’” King said, as reported by DeSmog. “Our report shows Big Oil continues to invest millions in digital advertising to launder their image as ‘climate champions,’ while also promoting the necessity of fossil fuels.”
The researchers found that there were almost 4,000 advertisements on Meta — the owner of Instagram and Facebook — dismissing the scientific consensus on climate change and denouncing efforts to tackle it, The Associated Press reported.
Since Musk took the helm, Twitter has reinstated users that had been banned, including some who had advanced deceptive climate change claims, as well as laid off thousands of employees.
Before Musk, blue checkmarks on Twitter were only given to government officials, journalists, celebrities and others in the public eye as an indicator of credibility. Currently, however, users who pay $8 per month are eligible to receive a checkmark, according to a Center for Countering Digital Hate report. Posts from these verified accounts are also made more visible than those made by other users on the platform.
Researchers found that there were 362,000 references to #ClimateScam between July and December of 2022, reported DeSmog.
“This research shows that climate disinformation isn’t going away and, in fact, it’s getting worse,” said climate disinformation spokesperson at Friends of the Earth U.S. Erika Seiber, as DeSmog reported. “Until governments hold social media and ad companies accountable, and companies hold professional disinformers accountable, crucial conversations around the climate crisis are going to be put in jeopardy.”