Opinion: "Social Media Is Polluted With Climate Denialism"

"This fall, Exxon Mobil started targeting New Yorkers with Facebook advertisements that warned about a proposed law that would require electric-only appliances in some buildings. “If your household was required to go full electric, it could cost you more than $25,600 to replace major appliances,” one ad reads.

But the ad doesn’t tell the whole story: The law would apply only to new buildings, making Exxon’s cost claims specious at best. Other advertisements, among roughly 1,200 placed by the fossil fuel giant found by the artificial intelligence outfit Eco-Bot.Net this year, claimed oil pipelines are necessary to keep “energy affordable and accessible” and that natural gas helps customers “meet their environmental goals.”

These are examples of so-called greenwashing, or corporate attempts to underplay companies’ true impact on the environment. Along with other climate misinformation on social media, such ads have become a potent threat to efforts to combat global warming. Researchers for the environmental group Stop Funding Heat found that climate misinformation is viewed as much as 1.36 million times daily on Facebook.

Social media companies simply aren’t rising to the challenge of rising sea levels. Climate change is an urgent threat, but the companies are treating misinformation around it with far less urgency than other issues like political conspiracy theories, hate speech and lies about Covid vaccines. Climate content can be considered opinion and is therefore exempt from standard fact-checking procedures, which climate change deniers have seized on to push misleading information onto the sites."

Greg Bensinger writes for the New York Times November 12, 2021.


"Report: ‘Whole of Society’ Effort Must Fight Misinformation" (AP)

Source: NYTimes, 11/16/2021