Green groups call on social media companies to do more to fight climate misinformation – The Hill


The story at a glance

  • In May 2022, the European Union passed the Digital Services Act which aims to improve digital spaces for social media users.

  • Now, several environmental groups are calling on Twitter, TikTok and others to step up their efforts to tackle climate misinformation under the law.

  • They argue that companies owe it to their users and the planet.

In a letter to the CEOs of Facebook, TikTok, Google and YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest, more than a dozen environmental groups called on companies to improve transparency in their reporting and moderation of climate misinformation under the law on digital services (DSA) of the European Union. .

The DSA was adopted in May 2022 and aims to create a safer and more open digital space for social media users.

“Unfortunately, the spread of climate misinformation is undermining the ability of governments to respond effectively and effectively” to the climate crisis, the letter read.

It is signed by Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, as well as the Union of Concerned Scientists, among others.

Environmental groups say social media companies bear responsibility for their role in amplifying and perpetuating climate misinformation.

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Research has shown that oil companies in particular indulge in misinformation, fueling doubt about the role of fossil fuels in climate change.

According to environmental groups, one of the ways social media companies can combat misinformation is by increasing transparency to quantify the exact extent of the problem. To do so, they “call on platform leaders to fulfill the obligations set forth in the DSA and commit to including climate disinformation as a separately recognized category in its reporting and content moderation policies within and outside the DSA”. [European Union.]”

They also call on platforms to disclose data on content moderation decisions related to the topic, saying companies owe it to users and the planet to stop amplifying this content.

Concerns about the proliferation of online misinformation and disinformation grew after the 2016 US presidential election and reached a new peak during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While misinformation is categorized as any false or inaccurate information, misinformation is misinformation deliberately disseminated with the intent to mislead.

Last April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released Part Three of its Sixth Assessment Report, detailing the risks posed by misinformation about climate change.

“The accurate transfer of climate science has been significantly undermined by climate change movements, particularly in the United States in legacy and new environments/social media by misinformation, including about causes and consequences of climate change,” the report said.

Conspiracy theories can also spread on social media, and the medium can influence public narratives about climate change.

“For social media, new technical tools, such as automated bots, are emerging to shape discussions about climate change on major online platforms such as Twitter,” the authors added.

The letter comes as the world prepares to come together in November for the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP 27.

Previous conferences have seen discussions of climate change misinformation, while UN Secretary General António Guterres recently denounced the dangers posed by social media platforms.

In a tweet, he said the platforms are “based on a business model that monetizes anger and negativity cause untold damage to societies”.

“Hate speech and disinformation proliferate. Our data is bought and sold to influence behavior. We need regulatory frameworks to change that.

In recent years, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Pinterest have all introduced policies to tackle climate misinformation and disinformation, albeit with varying degrees of success.


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