A new investigation has revealed that climate sceptic Facebook users are being driven towards more extreme forms of disinformation by algorithms, despite the social media giant’s claims of a crackdown.
By simulating the user experience of an individual liking pages such as “Net Zero Watch”, an organisation countering climate policies, Global Witness found that it was immediately met with a recommendation of “Climate Depot”, a US based outlet run by Marc Morano and part of CFACT, a group that calls human-induced climate change “a myth”.
In an overwhelming majority of cases a similar pattern continued, leading the user to see content that included claims that climate change is a hoax, described the UN as an “authoritarian regime” that has less credibility than “Bugs Bunny” and accused the “green movement” of “enslaving humanity”.
In total, 18 pages were recommended in the process of the human rights organisation’s simulation, with only one not containing any climate disinformation. Two thirds of the pages were exclusively dedicated to climate disinformation.
The findings come despite Facebook promising to stamp out climate disinformation on its platform, having set up a “climate science centre” designed to “connect people with science-based information on climate change”.
Responding to the investigation, Facebook told Global Witness that “for several months after we announced the initial experiment of informational labels in the UK, we did not completely roll out our labelling program.”
The findings also come on the day the communications regulator Ofcom warned that almost one in three UK internet users are unaware that online content may be false or biased.