Truth and Lies: Four Days of Texas-Sized Disinformation

Analysis of the February 2021 power outages in Texas shows that Facebook and other platforms' fact-checking and disinformation policies are failing, and more must be done to stop Big Tech from driving climate disinformation.

Analysis by Friends of the Earth uses Facebook data to show that their approach misses the point, and will still likely miss the vast majority of disinformation.

The analysis of the February 2021 power outages in Texas shows that despite Facebook and other platforms’ fact-checking policies at the time, only 0.9% percent of interactions with content promoting the falsehood that wind turbines were at fault for the power outages carried fact-checking labels.

The analysis by Friends of the Earth examined posts containing a false narrative that the February Texas blackouts were caused by failed wind turbines. The report shows how climate disinformation that starts at the fringe of social media platforms can quickly impact national climate policy. Though the windmill claim was debunked on local and major news outlets, the falsehoods became talking points for prominent politicians within 4 days.

Facebook, Twitter, Google/YouTube, and other platforms must stop driving climate disinformation, the report states.

Specifically, and in conjunction with other allied social movements, the report recommends the following actions:

  • ƒDisallow climate change disinformation and hate -speech in organic and paid posts and groups.
  • Create a two-strike policy for repeat disinformers, removing viral functions as a first step.
  • Commit to monitoring climate change and identity-based hate disinformation and releasing regular, third-party, independent, and transparent ecosystem-wide reports detailing labeled and removed content and actors.
  • Ensure disinformation content from known disinformers is transparently reviewed by expert teams on climate denial and identity-based hate and harassment.
  • Adopt a correct-the-record program that shows a retroactive correction to each user who viewed, interacted with, or shared a piece of misleading content.
  • Establish and empower permanent infrastructure for civil rights, climate denial, misogyny, and violence- against-women issues, including a C-Suite executive with relevant expertise