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Facebook fuels disinformation about climate change


Facebook fuels disinformation about climate change

Facebook and the (bankruptcy) struggle to disinformation. The social network has been carrying on this battle for years now but managing the tide of data that is shared daily on the platform is not easy. Especially when you are surrounded by sharks ready to take advantage of them to spread erroneous information. This time it was the turn of the climate change but no, don’t imagine crowds of deniers. The report published by InfluenceMap paints a more varied scenario, made up of omissions, subtle lies and somewhat distorted realities. All this conveyed through Facebook advertising.

Facebook and disinformation on climate change

The report published by the English agency InfluenceMap highlighted the increase in advertising on Facebook spread by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies. The target? Shaping the political debate on climate change.

No aggressive campaigns though. The approach has now become more moderate and subtle, with advertisements explaining how oil and gas can actually solve the problem.
Absurd? Certainly, especially considering that Facebook’s policy should prevent the dissemination of incorrect information. The American giant has in fact invested time and resources to be able to stem the problem but the results seem to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of what has been done so far.

To prove it are the numbers: 9.5 million dollars were invested in 2020 by 25 companies belonging to the oil industry and dedicated to the production of gas. An investment that has produced 25,000 Facebook ads for a total of 431 million views.

The campaign then intensified last July, when then-presidential candidate Joe Biden declared he wanted to invest $ 2 trillion in clean energy production. InfluenceMap in fact recorded an increase in spending which lasted until the elections. The strategy however remained the same, with companies tied to fossil fuel production that they peddled the energy produced by gas as “green” or associated gas and oil with a higher quality of life. Actions aimed at combating climate change made by these players in the sector have even been advertised.

However, Exxon seems to have gone further. The company decided to use social media to explain how oil is a cheap, reliable and energy source important for keeping the United States independent instead of relying on other countries. But that’s not all. InfluenceMap accused the company of voluntarily blaming the Americans, insinuating that the failure to reduce carbon emissions is the fault of the lifestyle choices of US citizens.

However, the companies involved are many more. Even the American Petroleum Institute ended up in this report. The reason? $ 3 million spent on Facebook Ads to portray fossil fuel producers as particularly climate conscious companies.

An ineffective strategy

At this point you may be wondering what Zuckerberg’s social network did against all of this.
A little.

“We reject ads when one of our independent fact-checking partners classifies them as false or misleading, and we take action against pages, groups, accounts and websites that repeatedly share fake content,” a spokesperson for Facebook to The Guardian.

Some ads have therefore been removed, others have been rejected, but it is clear that the strategy is not working properly.
This however is not new. Last year a group of senators wrote to Mark Zuckerberg to share their concerns about it: “Considering Facebook’s long and troubled history with disinformation, it is very worrying that Facebook has decided that disinformation about climate change is immune to verification. facts. The climate crisis is too important to allow blatant lies to spread across social media without consequences. “