A survey ranking climate change disinformation gives Twitter (recently rebranded as X) one point out of 21 for policies to reduce false information, the worst of five major internet platforms.
The Climate of Misinformation report by Climate Action Against Disinformation examined Meta, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter’s content moderation practices and climate denialism mitigation efforts. The group of dozens of international climate and anti-disinformation organisations, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, released the report to highlight climate misinformation on major platforms and claim that big tech is a “complicit actor” in climate denial.
Twitter’s ranking in the survey was because it failed to meet almost any of the organisation’s climate misinformation policy criteria, which included having clear and publicly available climate science information and clearly articulated policies on how the company will combat misinformation. The study said that billionaire tech magnate Elon Musk’s takeover of the company last year complicated policy enforcement and content selection.
The acquisition of the company by Elon Musk has raised questions regarding the status of existing policies, according to the paper.
Tech platforms have struggled to create effective or logical content moderation standards, and the COVID-19 epidemic and 2020 US presidential election spread falsehoods online. Due to conservative pushback and tech industry labour cuts, many corporations have deprioritized content filtering, opening their platforms to misinformation.
Pinterest had the highest score in the assessment, 12 out of 21. Lack of precise definitions of climate misinformation, failure to enforce regulations transparently, and lack of verification that corporations apply policies equitably across languages were issues. According to the analysis, none of the corporations disclose how algorithmic changes affect climate misinformation.
The authors recommend that big tech adopt explicit climate rules and update privacy policies to disclose when private data is sold to fossil fuel-related marketers.
Climate Action Against Disinformation has frequently urged big companies to engage in content moderation, but the trend has been the opposite in the past year. Musk has gutted Twitter’s moderation and reversed restrictions to allow transgender targeting and anti-vaccine misinformation. Instagram reinstated anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and YouTube enabled election denialism.