Social media platforms are still grappling with the persistence of climate change misinformation, some of which is financially supported by the fossil fuel industry.
An analysis published today by a coalition of environmental organizations and researchers called Climate Action Against Disinformation reveals that Google, YouTube, Meta, and TikTok are all behind in their efforts to moderate climate denial content effectively.
Notably, X, formerly known as Twitter, appears to lack clear policies on handling such content and is not forthcoming about any actions it may or may not be taking.
In this assessment, platforms were evaluated on their ability to moderate factually incorrect climate information, with a potential score of 21 points. Pinterest received the highest score of 12 points, followed by TikTok with nine points, and Meta-owned platforms Facebook and Instagram with eight points. YouTube scored six points. X, unfortunately, ranked at the bottom of the list, earning just a single point.
Last year, on Earth Day, X made an announcement that it would prohibit advertisements denying the scientific consensus on climate change. Notably, this wasn’t the platform’s initial commitment to curbing climate misinformation through ads.
In 2019, X had pledged to stop accepting political advertisements, including those from climate denial groups. However, this move did not effectively prevent “greenwashing” ad campaigns from entities like ExxonMobil and other players in the fossil fuel industry.
After Elon Musk’s acquisition of X in the autumn of 2022, there have been observable setbacks in the platform’s enforcement efforts and instances of policy reversals concerning content moderation.
The researchers said:
In the case of X/Twitter, Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company has created uncertainty about which policies are still standing and which are not.
While other platforms received higher scores in the report, it’s important to highlight that most of them were found to be deficient in some fundamental aspects. For instance, neither YouTube, Meta, nor TikTok have what researchers consider “a clear and comprehensive definition of climate change.”
However, the most significant concern is that not a single platform seems to provide users with updates on the actions taken after reporting climate misinformation, nor do they regularly publish reports detailing how algorithm changes affect climate change-related information.