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Africa: Facebook Algorithm Drives Skeptics to Climate Denial, Study Discovers #AfricaClimateCrisis
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Africa: Facebook Algorithm Drives Skeptics to Climate Denial, Study Discovers #AfricaClimateCrisis

Uganda: 'Start Caring - The Climate Crisis is Here' #AfricaClimateCrisis


Harare — If you are among the African adults who get their news through Facebook, you might be under the impression that scientific consensus surrounding human-made climate change is still a matter of debate. This is completely false.

Climate change is real, and it is man-made. Human-produced pollution is also causing it. There is overwhelming scientific consensusIt is true.

A review of scientific papers in 2019 found that consensus on climate change was at 100%. A 2021 study also concluded that this conclusion was true. More than 99% agree on climate change being caused by humans in scientific papers. Facebook does not reflect this reality.

A report published by Global WitnessFacebook’s algorithm amplify doubts, rather than guiding people to reliable information.

Global Witness’ latest study simulated the experience of a climate-sceptic user using the social media platform. In just a few clicks, the algorithm suggested content that denied man-made global warming. It also attacked measures to mitigate the climate crisis.

This is not new. Facebook has long been criticised for allowing misinformation to spread about the climate crisis on its platform.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that climate disinformation was a ‘big issue’ during a testimony before the U.S. Congress in April 2021. Facebook promised to eradicate climate disinformation.

Facebook announced that it will expand its climate science center to provide more reliable information, and launch a video series to highlight young climate activists on Facebook and Instagram.

They also pledged to increase their flagging of climate posts with information labels linking directly to their climate science center and announced a one million-dollar grant program to support organisations working against climate misinformation. This sum is equivalent to approximately thirty minutes of company profits according to Global Witness.

Critics say that the new push is too weak and allows climate misinformation to slip by the cracks.

A Center for Countering Digital Hate study concluded that only half of those posts that promote climate denial were flagged by the social media giant.

Their report stated that an analysis of 184 articles promoting climate denial content published between May 2021 & January 2022 revealed that 50.5% of them did not have labels.

Global Witness’s experiment shows that the Facebook algorithm directs climate-sceptics to more disinformation affirming and finding community with others who are skeptical of climate science.

Many times, users are directed towards worse information. What began as distractions and delay narratives, ends up being pages advocating climate denial or conspiracy.

These findings suggest that Facebook could be radicalising users. Users who visit anti-climate science pages will be pushed to extreme climate disinformation.

Facebook, now called Meta, stated that it had not yet fully implemented its labelling program, which it claimed “very likely” impacted the results.

“We combat climate misinformation by connecting people with reliable information in many language from leading organizations through Climate Science Center,” the firm stated in a statement. It also added that it worked with a global network independent fact-checkers to review and rate content.

Fake news about the climate crisis is dangerous both now and in the future. It doesn’t only lead to distrust in the media and the spread of false or discredited science but also undermines the existence or impacts of climate change, the indisputable human influence on climate change, and the need for corresponding urgent action, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), scientific consensus, and in line with goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The IPCCAccording to disinformation, it is one of many obstacles that governments and the general public have from addressing climate change.

The latest report, which was supported by 195 governments, stresses misinformation surrounding climate science. It “undermines climate research and disregards risks and urgency”.