Apr 23, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Twitter says it's toughening its policy on climate disinformation in ads

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Photo illustration of the Twitter logo seen displayed on a smartphone. Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitter will not allow "misleading advertisements" that "contradict the scientific consensus on climate change," the social media platform said in a statement Friday, marking Earth Day.

Why it matters: Inaccurate or misleading information on global warming has been common on social media sites.

Worth noting: The European Union announced Saturday that member countries have agreed to a new policy requiring Big Tech do more to address harmful content including disinformation and hate speech.

Driving the news: "We believe that climate denialism shouldn’t be monetized on Twitter, and that misrepresentative ads shouldn’t detract from important conversations about the climate crisis," Twitter sustainability executives Seán Boyle and Casey Junod said in a post.

  • They said the approach would be "informed" by authoritative sources including reports by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Yes, but: The policy announced on Earth Day is not wholly new. "Before today, advertisements denying climate change would have been rejected or halted per our Inappropriate Content policy," Twitter spokesperson Elizabeth Busby told Axios via email on Friday.

  • "The introduction of this formalized policy is to reinforce our commitment towards sustainability, drawing on IPCC assessment reports and input from global environmental experts," Busby said.
  • Asked if there's anything that would now be rejected that would have not been previously covered, Busby replied: "The formalized policy is a continuation of our earlier approach."

What we don't know: The company did not say specifically how it would make decisions about what's prohibited, but the post says the new effort will be in line with Twitter existing policy on "inappropriate content."

  • "In the coming months, we’ll have more to share on our work to add reliable, authoritative context to the climate conversations happening on Twitter," the company's Earth Day blog post states.
  • Also it's not clear how Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk may change Twitter's content moderation if his takeover bid succeeds.

What they're saying: The group Friends of the Earth, which tracks tech giants' climate policies, called it an "important move to demonetize climate disinformation."

  • "Companies like Meta must now take stronger action and stop being the last bastions of climate denial," the group said in a statement, referring to Facebook's parent company.
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