ISD’s Head of Climate Research and Policy, Jennie King, spoke to Deutsche Welle about what makes climate mis- and disinformation thrive on social media platforms, and the solutions that should and shouldn’t be adopted when addressing it. “There are clear vulnerabilities in the way social media platforms are designed and governed at present which allows such content to rise to the surface,” she said, speaking on the algorithmic nature of many of these platforms.
“Misinformation thrives in moments of crisis,” she said, noting the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently the war in Ukraine, as well as the resulting cost of living, health, energy and inflation crises, that have created an environment for an influx of misinformation.
This weaponisation of “genuine trauma” from crises like the pandemic has fuelled terms like ‘climate lockdown‘. This term aimed to advance climate mis- and disinformation, claiming the pandemic lockdowns were only a rehearsal for a coming wave of “green tyranny,” she explained.
And while companies have attempted to ban climate denial content, their policies are “crude” and “unenforceable,” according to Jennie, adding that “it is not criminal to deny climate change.”
Instead, she argues that the solution should be demonetising the for-profit business around boosting such content on news feeds, something social media companies have failed to do thus far.