According to a new report from the Center for Combating Digital Hatred (CCDH), most misinformation about climate change comes from only a few sources.The organization found that in all interactions on Facebook with content that denies climate change, ten publishers are responsible for 69% of the content. CCDH named it “The Toxic Ten”, which includes Breitbart, Russia Today, and Media Research Center.
These findings roughly reflect another report published by CCDH earlier this year. At the time, the report found that up to 73% of vaccine misinformation on Facebook was related to only 12 accounts, and they were called the “false information group of ten.” This research has been widely cited by US lawmakers, who called on social media platforms to take more measures to address the urgent threat of misinformation to public health.
Like previous false information reports, Facebook parent company Meta disputed the method CCDH used to compile its latest research report. A spokesperson for the company said: “The 700,000 interactions on climate denial mentioned in this report accounted for only 0.3% of the over 200 million interactions on English-language public climate change content from web pages and public organizations in the same period. The company also pointed out that the recently announced expansion of functions such as the Climate Change Information Center proves its commitment to solving misinformation on the subject.
CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed said in an interview with The Washington Post that the organization studied about 7,000 articles published between October 2020 and October 2021. He called this sample strong and said that there is enough data to draw representative trend findings.
In addition, the report examines the economic incentives involved in publishing content that denies climate change. CCDH estimates that in the past six months, eight companies included in the “Toxic Ten” made $5.3 million in Google advertising revenue, of which $1.7 million was owned by the search giant. “We recently announced a new policy that specifically prohibits publishers and YouTube creators from funding content that promotes climate change. This policy will take effect on November 8. Advertisements on the web are equally targeted,” a Google spokesperson told the media.
Ahmed also told The Post: “When you put all this together, you will see these two industries-big oil and big technology. They are the two industries that pose the greatest threat to the survival of our species. “
On the occasion of the release of the “Toxic Ten” report, representatives from all over the world held the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Scotland. This summit was called “the last global opportunity” to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Without substantial emissions reductions, the earth is currently in a catastrophic phase of global temperature rise of 2.7 degrees Celsius. In addition to the 1.5-degree target set forth in the Paris Agreement, for every additional degree of warming, the earth has a greater risk of passing a certain critical point, which may lead to even greater changes in the climate.