X worst among tech platforms in climate change misinformation, activists say

A new report ranking climate change misinformation said that X, formally known as Twitter, is the worst social media platform at reducing inaccurate content about the issue.

The Climate of Misinformation report, prepared by Climate Action Against Disinformation, an activist group, gave X only a single point in a 21-point scorecard when assessing policies aimed at reducing inaccurate information about global warming.

Content moderation policies at five major tech platforms – Meta, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and X – were looked at in the report (PDF).

The group, made up of dozens of international climate and anti-disinformation organizations including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, released the report to draw attention towards climate misinformation on major platforms.

The report claims that Big Tech has become a “complicit actor” in accelerating the spread of climate change denial. And X is the worst as it has allegedly failed to meet almost any of the set criteria for climate misinformation policies.

X failed to meet almost any of the set criteria for climate misinformation policies. Courtesy of CAAD.

These ranged from simply having clear and publicly available information on climate science to having clear policies on what actions the company, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, are taking against the spread of misinformation.

“Since Elon Musk’s acquisition, content moderation has been deconstructed, and climate change denial and hate speech have spiked. Meanwhile, while Musk talks about free speech, he instead targets those who try to hold Twitter/X accountable for letting false and harmful content run amok on the platform,” the report says.

Lack of action over climate change denial is perhaps unsurprising because Musk has himself made public statements that deny basic science about humanity’s role in heating the planet.

For example, in a post in late June, Musk said: "What happens on Earth's surface (eg farming), has no meaningful impact on climate change."

To be fair, over the past several years, platforms have announced some policies to stop the spread of false climate content, the report says.

In 2021, Google pledged to no longer allow the monetization of climate change denial content on YouTube. In early 2023, TikTok added climate to its existing mis- and disinformation policies. In 2022, Pinterest took the largest step, banning climate misinformation in both organic content and advertisements.

However, the report adds: “There are serious gaps in the way that policies targeting climate misinformation are written and enforced.”

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