Technology 'The future of this planet is at stake,' new report pressures Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to battle climate lies
The US has a chance fix its broken climate risk disclosure system
If companies ignore their vulnerability to climate change, the global economy is at risk.Financial regulators in the US are grappling with that question now. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened a 90-day public comment period in March that will inform the first update to federal climate risk disclosure guidelines in a decade. Shareholder groups and asset managers like BlackRock (CEO Larry Fink wrote in February that “climate risk is investment risk”) are pressuring boardrooms to improve corporate transparency around climate risks.
The nation’s leading social media companies have pulled out the stops to shut down conspiracy theories, hoaxes and falsehoods aboutand , and the , but they are far less aggressive when it comes to the latest hotspot in the war on : .
Social media researchers and climate scientists say hundreds of thousands of posts denying climate change can be found on Twitter, Facebook and its app Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube. And, a new report from Advance Democracy shared exclusively with USA TODAY found that warning labels or links to credible information are frequently missing from posts that deny the existence of climate change, dispute its causes or underplay its effects.
Overnight Energy: Treasury creates hub to fight climate change through finance | Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez introduce 'Green New Deal for Public Housing' |
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Among them is the false belief that the Grand Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity, will cool the planet and cause the next ice age, which is particularly popular among prominent climate change deniers and even has its own YouTube channel.
Michael Mann, director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center, warns that fossil fuel interests are weaponizing social media platforms to sow doubt and division and suppress public support for climate change initiatives.
Fact check: Scientific consensus says humans are dominant cause of climate change
A Facebook user claims man-made climate change is a hoax. That is false.“The science is undeniable,” Biden said during the April 22 summit. “The cost of inaction keeps mounting.
He’s calling on tech companies to identify, flag and take down accounts that repeatedly push climate lies and keep misinformation from spreading largely unchecked.
“Nothing less than the future of this planet is at stake,” Mann, author oftold USA TODAY.
YouTube influencers reject vaccine lies:
How to hide likes on Facebook, Instagram:
On Twitter in 2020, there were nearly a half million climate change denial posts, according to Advance Democracy, a research organization that studies disinformation and extremism. So far this year, there have been 83,590, with climate change denial content surging during the Texas blackout in February and President Joe Biden’s climate change summit in April.
Twitter climate change deniers seize on global cooling myth
Posts with the hashtag #GrandSolarMinimum accounted for nearly 9% of all climate change denial content on Twitter, the report found. The posts pointed to cold snaps around the world including in Greenland as purported evidence that the Grand Solar Minimum – a period during which the sun gives off less energy – is cooling the globe.
The Latest: Tracker credits Biden summit on emissions gap
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Joe Biden's global climate summit (all times local): 9:10 a.m. An analysis shows President Joe Biden’s climate summit and the run-up to it cut the so-called emissions gap, a crucial measurement used to see if the world can limit global warming, by about one-eighth. Climate Action Tracker is a group of scientists who monitor nations’ pledges of carbon pollution cuts. It calculated that targets announced since last September cut about 12% to 14% from the emissions gap. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb.
Scientiststhe Grand Solar Minimum, which reduces average temperatures by a half a degree Fahrenheit or less, does little to offset offset global warming, yet all of the top five Twitter accounts pushing climate change denial promote claims it does.
“We recognize more can be done on services like Twitter to elevate credible climate information, including on how we can mitigate climate crisis harms,” Twitter said in a statement. “Our teams are thinking about ways we can best serve the global climate crisis conversation happening on the service, including through tools that surface and make reliable information and resources more readily available.”
Texas winter storm, California wildfires fuel climate misinformation
Increasingly, climate change deniers are seizing on extreme weather events, such as the Texas winter storm when some people falsely claimed the snow was fake or the California wildfires some said were the result of space lasers to promote skepticism about climate change from a public whose faith in science was already shaken by the pandemic.
Fact check: A viral image of restaurant diners does not depict the Facebook content policy team
A post falsely claims to show the Facebook team that sets the platform's rules. The image has been shared many times claiming to show various groups.“Facebook community standards team,” it claims. “This is literally who bans us.
When millions of Texans lost power in February, Facebook didn’t label false claims that wind turbines caused the massive outages that racked up millions of views, according to a report from nonprofit Avaazwith USA TODAY.
Mark Zuckerberg admitted that climate misinformation is a big issue at a congressional hearing in March, but when asked by Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) why Facebook didn't apply the same rules to climate change as COVID-19 misinformation, the Facebook CEO said lies about the pandemic had the potential to cause “imminent physical harm,” while climate misinformation does not.
A Facebook spokesman said climate change misinformation accounts for a small percentage of overall misinformation on Facebook platforms but declined to be specific.
John Cook, a research assistant professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University who is advising Facebook, says social media platforms must quickly develop effective solutions to climate misinformation the way they did for COVID.
“COVID-19 misinformation is an obvious immediate threat and social media platforms were appropriately proactive in quickly responding and stopping it from spreading. Similarly, climate change is an immediate threat as climate impacts are happening here and now, all across society and our environment,” Cook said. “But unlike the pandemic, climate change is going to persist and increase in intensity over time. This underscores why it's imperative that social media platforms are proactive and urgent in stopping climate misinformation from spreading.”
French demonstrators demand more action on climate change
PARIS (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Paris and other French cities on Sunday to call for more ambitious measures in the fight against climate change. The nationwide protests come after the lower house of parliament this week approved a climate bill aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions that environment activists say doesn’t go far or fast enough. “As it stands, the (proposed) law is a climatic and social failure,” said a group of climate campaigners, “Ensemble pour le climat” ("Together for climate”).Greenpeace France denounced “the government’s refusal to take action for climate.
Scientists urge Facebook and YouTube to crack down on climate lies
Social media researchers say it’s hard to get a handle on the volume of climate misinformation without access to private groups and messages.
Advance Democracy found that some of the most popular climate change denialists on Twitter also have accounts on Facebook and Instagram.
Advance Democracy also uncovered some 4,210 public posts about the Grand Solar Minimum since 2020 that generated about 97,100 interactions. Instagram hosted a smaller number of posts.
Last fall, Facebooka Climate Science Information Center. At the time, Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox told USA TODAY: “Our goal is to help people get authoritative information about climate change, and we are taking it seriously. This is one step, and there will be many more.”
The center pops up when users search terms such as “global warming.” It includes scientific facts, such as nearly all global warming is caused by humans, and busts common climate-change myths.
Facebook has begun to add links to the center on climate change-related posts in some places and has plans to expand. Fact-checkers also bird dog bogus claims such as that the net gain of global temperatures over the last 58 years is zero, the World Wildlife Fund funded fires in the Amazon and sea level rates haven’t significantly changed in the last 120 years.
“When they rate this content as false, we add a warning label and reduce its distribution so fewer people see it. We also take action against Pages, Groups, and accounts that repeatedly share false claims about climate science,” Facebook told USA TODAY.
Daily on Energy: Biden working to integrate climate into every agency’s work
Subscribe today to the Washington Examiner magazine and get Washington Briefing: politics and policy stories that will keep you up to date with what's going on in Washington. SUBSCRIBE NOW: Just $1.00 an issue! © Provided by Washington Examiner DOE Header 2020 The Biden administration unveiled two new climate-focused initiatives yesterday that, on their face, aren’t controversial but show how President Joe Biden is seeking to make climate change a priority of every federal agency.
YouTube, owned by Google, was singled out as a top source for climate misinformation by the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. The committee urged YouTube to take more aggressive steps to fight back. Advance Democracy found that videos on one channel about Grand Solar Minimum had over 4.7 million views.
YouTube told USA TODAY that it surfaces authoritative content in search results and informational panels to reduce the spread of misinformation, such as a panel that defines climate change.
“For example, searching for videos about climate change or even climate-related conspiracies brings up results from authoritative sources and information panels where users can find additional context,” Elena Hernandez, a YouTube spokesperson, said in a statement.
Advance Democracy says the informational panel does not pop up on searches for the Grand Solar Minimum.
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According to YouTube, a climate change information panel shows a definition of climate change search results for specific events linked to climate change that have resulted in conspiracies, like "Texas Snow Fake," surface authoritative sources first.
On TikTok, Advance Democracy found 14 videos tagged with the hashtag #GrandSolarMinimum that received more than 150,000 views as of April 26.
TikTok said it works to keep “misleading, harmful or deceptive content and accounts off TikTok.”
“We work proactively to identify and remove misinformation and accounts dedicated to spreading it, and we review reports from our community,” the company said. “This includes misinformation related to climate change, vaccines, COVID-19, and more.”
Daniel Jones, president of Advance Democracy, says climate misinformation that obfuscates or downplays the threat to human life is delaying “necessary policy reforms worldwide.”
“Our research affirms that the spread of climate misinformation is prolific on social media and could benefit from platform interventions that steer users to more accurate information,” he said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Luxembourg takes the lead on climate finance .
The small country is a financial giant — and it’s working to lead the world on sustainable climate finance.Emissions from a coal-fired power plant are silhouetted against the setting sun in the US, Feb. 1, 2021. A United Nations report released in February says humans are making Earth a broken and increasingly unlivable planet through climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.