Meta-Denial: How Facebook Fails to Keep Up with the Evolving Tactics of Today’s Climate Misinformers
Despite repeated promises by Facebook that it is addressing climate disinformation on its platform, an analysis by Avaaz shows that the company allowed top climate disinformers to escape its own policies and spread misleading content to millions of its users.
Avaaz found that five publishers who are regular and known climate disinformers, including the likes of Bjørn Lomborg and Alan Jones, placed 136 posts promoting this content between April and mid-November 2021.
Together, these promoted posts received more than 61 million views. The majority of them (88%) were not flagged by Facebook with a fact-checking label.
Moreover, Avaaz researchers found that the platform allowed these same actors to promote climate change denial and other misinformation through paid advertisements that were seen an estimated 6.9 million times by its users.
The report argues that these climate disinformers have shifted to using the tactics of ‘lukewarmers’ – individuals who admit climate change is real while pushing for narratives that would undermine climate action.
With the low percentage of disinformation tagged with fact-checking labels, Avaaz concludes that Facebook has failed to keep up with such evolving tactics.
The report calls on Facebook and other tech companies to:
- Accept a robust definition of climate disinformation
- Produce and publicise a transparent company plan to tackle disinformation
- Not publish advertisements that contain climate mis/disinformation
- Share internal research of the activity of climate misinformation on their platforms.
Furthermore, Avaaz calls on governments and regulatory bodies to implement regulation that ensures:
- Transparency: Require big tech platforms to provide comprehensive reports on climate mis/disinformation
- Detox the Algorithm: Ensure big tech platforms implement transparent policies that protect citizens from the amplification of online harms
- Correct the Record: Require platforms to show a retroactive correction to every user who viewed, interacted with, or shared fact-checked misinformation.