March 24, 2021
Over the last 3 months, GDI has tracked over 2,000 pieces of climate change denial content, which recorded nearly 974k engagements* across mainstream social media. This increase in disinformation is likely to accelerate as we get closer to the key climate summit COP26 in November 2021.
If this growing tsunami of disinformation is not disrupted, more and more deceitful narratives will permeate conversations-at-large and further erode the trust of the scientific community. This degradation of facts may lead to an increased risk of friction and potential failure at COP26, once again delaying the critical coordinated global action needed to counter climate change.
Outlined below are three volume spikes that GDI has identified, each grounded in a major event or milestone:
January 6: The volume of new climate change disinformation content started picking up significantly on the 6th of January as the Georgia runoff election results is perceived to have increased the likelihood of green reforms. Outlets like Red State were quick to call out perceived “radical legislative action” that was set to follow, including “climate action” to counter “global warming”.
> “...Leftist Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) called for “transformative change,” “recurring survival checks,” “racial justice,” “climate action,” “repro justice,” and “MUCH more….”
> “..."Climate action.” My favorite, bless their “global warming” hearts...”
February 18: New climate change disinformation content has been generated with increasing frequency, peaking at 158/day on the 18th of February (the day when the US officially re-joined the Paris Agreement).
> “...America has moved to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, the World Health Organization and the (horribly misnamed) United Nations Human Rights Council...”
February 28: The climate change disinformation content we track has been interacted with (liked/commented) on Twitter and Facebook with increasing frequency, peaking at 200k+ daily on the 28th of February (10 days after the US officially re-joined the Paris Agreement). The conspiracy-peddling site InfoWars contributed to the conversation by accusing the World Trade Organization of lying in relation to climate change.
> “After flaying the World Health Organization (WHO) for ‘giving China a free pass on the Wuhan Flu,‘ while banking $500 million on pandemic bonds, Bernardi demolishes the World Food Program, the World Meteorological Organization, the World Tourism Organization, and the World Trade Organization – for lies, misinformation and climate-related pretzel logic to justify policy."
The graphs, tracking article count as well as engagements are below, and further GDI examples of ad-support disinformation articles can be found here.
All terms are defined as aggregate numbers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, using standard social media marketing terms:
Reach — Total number of followers/subscribers to all accounts that have shared a piece of content
Engagement — Total number of likes, favorites, reactions to, or comments on posts of said content__Data from CrowdTangle, a public insights tool owned and operated by Facebook.