Filtering Information Bubble: Know How Social Media Become Enablers Of Climate Misinformation

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Filtering Information Bubble: Know How Social Media Become Enablers Of Climate Misinformation

With over 4,000 ads sponsored by fossil fuel companies and #climatescam appearing as the first option while searching the term "climate," know how false information on climate crisis skyrocketed through social media platforms.

In recent times, searching the word "climate" on social media does not lead to recommendations relating to the climate crisis, climate change, or even climate jobs. Instead, the automatic recommendation is "climate scam." Over thousands of accounts, including the ones with blue ticks, have made posts quashing the climate crisis as a hoax and engaging in misleading claims about efforts to mitigate the crisis. In particular, Elon Musk-owned Twitter saw tweets containing "climate scam" or other keywords linked to climate change denial rise by 300 per cent. The information regarding how social media has played a decisive element in opinions surrounding climate change was published in a report released by the nonprofit Advance Democracy.

Sponsored Ads By Companies That Contribute To Climate Crisis

Talking about the report, Jennie King, head of climate research at the London-based nonprofit- Institute for Strategic Dialogue, said, "What's happening in the information ecosystem poses a direct threat to action." Adding to it, Jennie mentioned how such a misleading filter bubble could plant seeds of doubt and make people think there is no real scientific consensus. The institute, a part of a coalition of environmental advocacy groups, released the report tracking climate change disinformation in the months before, during, and after the UN climate summit held in November.

As per the study, Twitter, in particular, had taken centre stage in spreading such misinformation regarding the climate crisis. However, many other social media platforms were also faulted for failing to enforce their own policies prohibiting climate change misinformation. Meta, which owns the popular sites of Facebook and Instagram, allowed nearly 4,000 advertisements on their sites bought mainly by fossil fuel companies.

According to the researchers, many such sponsored advertisements blatantly dismissed the scientific findings behind climate change and criticised efforts to respond to it. These posts also went on to cite inflation and economic fears as reasons to back their opposition to climate policies. Probing further on it, the researchers found that a significant number of the accounts posting misinformation about climate change also spread false claims about the US elections, COVID-19, and vaccines.

The Twitter Case

After Musk took over Twitter, several thousands of employees were laid off, and major changes were brought to its content moderation. A report by India Today stated that Musk reinstated many formerly banned users who were held back from the platform for spreading misleading claims. This enabled the space to accommodate false information, hate speech, and attacks on communities, among other concerns. Adding on to this, anyone willing to choke up $8 a month could become a verified account. Posts made by accounts with the blue tick automatically receive a boost in the platform. It also attached a sense of credibility among the other users as previously, the verified accounts were held by people such as journalists, government officials, or celebrities.

Several researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate analysed the accounts being verified after Musk took over. They found that the newly verified accounts spread four times more the amount of climate change misinformation in comparison to the numbers before Musk. Twitter's new system blurred the lines of distinction for users between authentic and malafide sources. Anyone with $8 could now post an opinion and place rocket boosters on the spread of disinformation.

Also Read: Concerning! Study Reveals How Climate Change Threatens India's Solar & Wind Energy Potential

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Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
Editor : Jayali Wavhal
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