Climate misinformation on Facebook abundant, on the rise -study

Facebook has been used to spread COVID-related misinformation, propagate a diversity of conspiracy theories and even influence democratic elections.

Depiction of Facebook logo (photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Depiction of Facebook logo
(photo credit: VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

A study published by the nonprofit organization “Stop Funding Heat” exhibits the scale of climate-based misinformation on Facebook, which, according to the findings, continues to increase.

Researchers extrapolated data sets in order to find that climate misinformation content is viewed between 818,000 and 1.36 million times daily on the platform. The study also discovered that Facebook only fact-checks 3.6% of misinformation posted. Further, the abundance of climate-based “fake news” has led to a nearly 77% increase in interactions (comments, shares and reactions) on posts that contained climate misinformation.

The study also analyzed 113 posts that were advertised on Facebook, finding that 78% of the funding came from just seven pages– all of which were flagged by Facebook last year for spreading climate-based misinformation. Facebook has yet to take punitive action against the fake news distributors, per Stop Funding Heat.

Facebook has previously been accused of not sufficiently policing content and hate speech distributed across their platform– CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously had to testify before the United States Congress in 2018 amid a rise in malicious content and growing questions about the social media giant’s role in the mania.

 FACEBOOK CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, 2019. (credit: ERIN SCOTT/REUTERS) FACEBOOK CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, 2019. (credit: ERIN SCOTT/REUTERS)

Zuckerberg's platform has been used to spread COVID-related misinformation, propagate a diversity of conspiracy theories and even influence democratic elections overseas.

As the UN’s COP26 Climate Summit continues in Glasgow, the findings aim to urge governments to seriously consider the role of climate misinformation on social media in derailing the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Stop Funding Heat is a spin-off of the successful campaign “Stop Funding Hate,” which was founded in 2016 to pressure companies to stop advertising with news outlets that use "fear and division to sell more papers."