In the Dark: How Social Media Companies’ Climate Disinformation Problem is Hidden from the Public

A new scorecard by Friends of the Earth, Avaaz, and Greenpeace USA shows that social media companies are largely leaving the public in the dark about their efforts to combat the problem.

A scorecard report released by Greenpeace USA, Avaaz and Friends of the Earth shows that social media platforms’ plans to handle and tackle climate disinformation remain unclear.

Using a 27-point assessment question system to review climate dis/misinformation policies on five major social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, TikTok and Pinterest – the groups identify how some have done more than others.

The two best-performing companies, Pinterest and YouTube, scored 14 out of the 27 possible points. The research highlights Pinterest’s policy commitment to take down content that denies or distorts scientific facts of the climate crisis.

Following these two, Facebook (9/27), TikTok (7/27) and Twitter (5/27) scored the weakest rankings. This was due to the lack of transparency on their policies and the inability to hold repeat offenders to account.

However, all of the social media companies failed to reveal comprehensive policies to combat climate dis/misinformation, including:

  • Releasing weekly transparency reports that detail the scale and prevalence of climate dis/misinformation on their platforms and mitigation efforts taken internally;
  • Providing thorough and consistent detail for the courses of action they take on repeat violators of their policies, especially in the context of climate dis/misinformation.

But some have implemented more than others:

  • Pinterest and YouTube have adopted climate expert-informed definitions of climate dis/misinformation, while Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter have not.

Based on the findings the group recommends big tech companies to deliver on the following:

  • Establish, disclose, and enforce policies to reduce climate change dis/misinformation.
  • Release current labelling, fact-checking, policy review, and algorithmic ranking systems related to climate change disinformation policies.
  • Disclose weekly reports on the scale and prevalence of climate change dis/misinformation on the platform and mitigation efforts taken internally.
  • Adopt privacy and data protection policies to protect individuals and communities who may be vulnerable to climate dis/misinformation.

You can read the report in full here.