Climate Change and Digital Advertising

An InfluenceMap Report
October, 2020

Climate Science Disinformation in Facebook Advertising

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See coverage in The Guardian, The Independent, Grist and AFP.

  • Amid growing concerns at both the impacts of the climate emergency and the use of social media to sway public opinion, InfluenceMap has launched a detailed analysis of the use of platforms such as Facebook by corporations and other entities to influence the climate agenda. InfluenceMap categorizes three objectives of the use of social media advertising on the climate issue: Climate-science disinformation; Climate brand building; and Climate policy and election influencing.

  • This report deals with the category of Climate-science disinformation-related advertising over Facebook's platform and takes and analyzes a representative sample of Facebook ads originating from think tanks and other politically motivated advertisers known to be linked to climate disinformation content.

  • On the 14th of September 2020, Facebook launched its Climate Science Information Center and reaffirmed its commitment to tackling climate science misinformation through its fact-checking program. However, this research reveals that under the current fact-checking program, anti-climate groups are still able to take advantage of Facebook’s advertising platform and unique targeting abilities to spread climate disinformation. Only 1 of the 51 ads identified by InfluenceMap was taken down by Facebook; the rest were allowed to run for the entirety of their scheduled time. Two of the ads, both run by US conservative nonprofit PragerU, started on January 23rd, 2020, and ran up to October 1st, 2020, two weeks after Facebook launched its Climate Science Information Center. See records of these and other ads covered in this research in the Facebook Ad Library.

Download the full report, graphics, and quotes below.

Calling out the climate misinformation issue on Facebook is crucial because the company's limited attempts to deal with the problem are failing to keep pace with powerful tactics like micro-targeting. It's yet another attempt by Facebook to say "we're doing some good", when the problem continues, mostly unabated.

Bill Weihl
former Director of Sustainability, Facebook, and Founder of NGO ClimateVoice

For decades, polluter interests sowed false doubt and peddled lies to block climate action, screening themselves behind dark-money front groups. InfluenceMap’s new report exposes the powerful role Facebook plays in enabling these disinformation campaigns. Facebook talks a good game on climate, but it makes money spreading climate denial and disinformation.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
United States Senator for Rhode Island

InfluenceMap’s devastating report reinforces and reveals how Facebook lets climate deniers spread dangerous junk to millions of people. We have repeatedly asked Facebook to close the loopholes that allow misinformation to run rampant on its platform, but its leadership would rather make a quick buck while our planet burns, sea levels rise, and communities – disproportionately Black and Brown – suffer. Facebook must be held accountable for its role in the climate crisis.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
United States Senator for Massachusetts