Home Research paper Climate Misinformation on Facebook ‘Rises Dramatically’, Study Finds | Facebook

Climate Misinformation on Facebook ‘Rises Dramatically’, Study Finds | Facebook


The scale of climate misinformation on Facebook is “staggering” and “increasing dramatically,” a new analysis of hundreds of thousands of posts has found.

A report released Thursday by the Real Facebook Oversight Board, an independent watchdog group, and the environmental nonprofit Stop Funding Heat, analyzed a dataset of more than 195 Facebook pages and groups. Researchers found around 818,000 messages downplaying or denying the climate crisis, which received a total of 1.36 million views each day.

The study’s publication coincides with the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow and urges governments to seriously consider the role of climate disinformation on social media in derailing the battle for reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is where the ambitions of Cop26 and the Facebook Papers revelations collide, with our data showing that Facebook is one of the world’s largest providers of climate disinformation,” the researchers said.

The study analyzed 195 pages known to spread disinformation about the climate crisis using Facebook’s analytics tool, CrowdTangle. Of these, 41 were considered “one issue” groups. With names like “Climate change is natural,” “Climate change is crap,” and “Climate realism,” these groups have mostly shared memes denying the existence of climate change and poking fun at politicians who try to remedy this through legislation.

Those who weren’t “one-issue” groups included pages of figures like right-wing politician Marjorie Taylor Greene, who published misleading articles and disinformation about the climate crisis.

This “creeping” spread of climate misinformation is getting significantly worse, said Sean Buchan, researcher and head of partnerships for Stop Funding Heat. Interactions per post in its dataset have increased 76.7% in the past year, according to the report.

“If it continues to increase at this rate, it can cause significant damage in the real world,” he said.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He previously said he continues to fight the spread of disinformation by reporting climate news and referring users to his Climate Change Science Center, which has data from credible sources on the climate crisis.

Members of the Extinction Rebellion Red Brigade demonstrate in front of the Cop26 venue in Glasgow. Photograph: Stuart Wallace / REX / Shutterstock

Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg on Tuesday announcement that the center would expand to include more countries and information labels, add to articles on the climate crisis for additional context.

According to Facebook’s own tally, the Climate Change Science Center receives about 100,000 daily visits around the world – a fraction of the number of users who view misleading climate information, according to the study. Facebook has 2.9 billion monthly active users.

As the Cop 26 climate summit continues, campaigners call on the US Congress, the UK Parliament and the EU Congress to pass legislation targeting the massive power of Facebook given its inability to stem disinformation climate.

“Facebook cannot and will not control itself,” the Real Facebook Oversight Board said in a statement. “We need real, independent and transparent external monitoring and regulation and an investigation into all of Facebook’s activities, including the dangerous spread of climate disinformation.”

The disinformation on Facebook – about climate change and other issues – is largely fueled by a small number of sources. The study released Thursday found that 78% of the information came from just seven pages, all of which were pointed out a year ago in a previous report. Facebook previously refused to delete the pages.

Facebook has long been criticized for spreading climate misinformation on its platforms. In May 2021, progressive nonprofit Avaaz reported an estimate 25 million views of disinformation related to climate science and renewable energy in just 60 days in the United States.

The latest study comes days after a separate report released this week showed just 10 publishers are responsible for 69% of climate change denial digital content on Facebook, including more than 6,983 articles last year denying the crisis. climate.

The problem is exacerbated by the uneven way Facebook moderates its content around the world, Buchan said.

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, recently revealed that 87% of Facebook’s misinformation spend goes to English content, despite only 9% of its users being English speakers.

“That’s a really high percentage, and that means there’s a whole bunch of Facebook users being left out,” Buchan said. “There are entire populations who appreciate the Facebook service, and which Facebook benefits from, without actually taking care of them.”