12 December, 2023

Musk’s X worse on combating climate change misinformation, finds report

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Elon Musk-run X (formerly Twitter) is at the bottom among social media platforms when it comes to combating climate change misinformation, an analysis by a coalition of environmental groups and researchers known as Climate Action Against Disinformation has revealed.

Twitter/X received only one point — lacking clear policies that address climate misinformation, having no substantive public transparency mechanisms, and offering no evidence of effective policy enforcement, the analysis showed.

Pinterest received the most points, proving that they’re leading the industry on policies that mitigate the spread of climate misinformation.

YouTube, Meta, and TikTok have made commitments to address climate misinformation on their platforms, but independent researchers “demonstrate that policy enforcement is lacking,” according to the analysis.

Four out of five social media platforms did not have a content moderation policy that includes a comprehensive, universal definition of climate misinformation and most platforms lack policies that address “greenwashing”.

Although TikTok has demonstrated intention to do so, no platform showed proof of equal enforcement of climate misinformation policies across languages.

Four out of five platforms’ privacy policies were either difficult to read, did not explicitly prevent the sale/sharing of personal data, or both.

“There’s a lack of algorithmic reporting from all platforms, and 4 out of 5 platforms lack reporting on misinformation trends, while 2 out of 5 platforms lack effective public education tools on climate change and climate solutions,” the report noted.

In the case of X/Twitter, Musk’s acquisition of the company has created uncertainty about which policies are still standing and which are not.

“While some policy content on Twitter/X’s website dated before the acquisition could potentially benefit the fight against climate
disinformation, such as its announcement to ban “misleading advertisements on Twitter/X that contradict the scientific consensus on climate change,” many policies are no longer being enforced, according to outside sources.

Researchers didn’t include Threads in its assessment of Meta, as the platform is new, and its content moderation policies have not been publicly detailed.

Researchers used a 21-point assessment system informed by experts to grade platforms on the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of their policies.

They used the companies’ official, public-facing community guidelines, terms of service, and press releases (as of August 24, 2023) as well as relevant news reporting and independent research to answer each question.


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