I mean, this kind of feels like it should already be the case, but today, marking Earth Day 2022, Twitter has announced that it will now ban all ads which make claims that contradict scientific consensus on climate change and its impacts.
As explained by Twitter:
“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 […] We recognize that misleading information about climate change can undermine efforts to protect the planet. 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.”
Twitter says that anti-climate change ads will be banned under its inappropriate content policy, while its approach in determining what is and is not correct will be informed by authoritative sources, like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Reports.
Which is good, and it makes sense, especially given the depth of the evolving climate crisis – but as noted, it feels like this probably should have been the case already, right?
But actually, most social platforms don’t have an official policy on such in place.
Pinterest announced a full ban on climate change misinformation, in posts and ads, earlier this month, while back in October, Google announced that it would prohibit ads and monetization of YouTube videos that deny climate change. Meta includes climate change in its ‘sensitive topics’, which restricts brands from targeting ads based on such, but it doesn’t have a specific policy in place to stop ad content that includes climate misinfo (though it may, theoretically, come under the proviso that it prohibits ads which include content debunked by third-party fact checkers). Neither does Snap, despite both companies taking a strong stand against the same in other approaches.
So while it may seem a little outdated, and like this should have been an official policy for some time, Twitter is actually somewhat ahead of the curve here, in taking dedicated, focused action on policing climate denial claims.
Which is good, because again, scientific consensus is that human activity is a key contributor to global warming, and that we need to do all we can, right now, to avoid an impending crisis, which will eventually make many parts of the world uninhabitable, and will continue to cause major catastrophes like bushfires, tsunamis, and more.
Denial is the default stance for some, because taking personal action requires personal effort, and it’s easier to point to heavy emitters, like big corporations and industries, and dismiss your own action as useless. But efforts to address climate change stretch to everyone, and if we all do what we can, we can all contribute to a better future, both in practice and by example, putting pressure on others to do the same.
Hopefully, other platforms will follow suit, and make climate change denial a specific banned element within their ad policies.