Climate activists join call for urgent action to rein in Big Tech over misinformation

Some media platforms have already issued a crackdown on climate misinformation

A plan created by 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureates Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov aims to rein in Big Tech and stop the spread of misinformation and fake news and has been supported by a host of climate activists this week.

Since the plan was first launched at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo last year, 276 more individuals and organisations have added their support. As concern grows about the potential dangers of rapid advances in artificial intelligence, the plan convenes laureates and leading experts to discuss how to stop mis- and disinformation undermining democracy, prevent online harms, and restore trust in science.

These include prominent climate activists Bill McKibben and Laurence Tubiana, leading authors Timothy Synder and Moises Naim, and film directors Mike Lerner and Asif Kapadia.

Other signatories include a number of journalists, such as George Monbiot, Carole Cadwalladr, and Kirsty Lang from the UK, Claire Richard from France, Patricia Campos Mello from Brazil, Peter Greste from Australia, Rana Ayyub from India, Gerard Ryle from the US.

The plan is supported by a network of civil society organisations campaigning for reform under the umbrella of ‘People vs Big Tech.’

It is designed to be a powerful advocacy tool, which demonstrates widespread concern about Big Tech-driven harms, shows that widely accepted solutions exist, and highlights the urgency of action. It can inform legislators and policymakers and mobilise citizens.

Ressa presented the plan on Wednesday (24 May) at The Nobel Prize Summit: Truth, Trust and Hope – co-hosted by the Nobel Foundation and National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC.

Ressa said: “Democracy, freedom, and peace are under threat from hate and lies online. This 10-point plan outlines the systemic changes that rights-respecting governments should take to counter the threat posed by Big Tech’s business model, including protecting citizens’ rights to privacy, and rebuilding independent journalism as the antidote to tyranny.”

Supporters also include organisations like The Intercept, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Rory Peck Trust, and PEN International, as well as tech whistleblowers Frances Haugen and Aerica Shimizu Banks, human rights and environmental activists Kumi Naidoo and Esmerelda de Belgique.

They are joined by members of parliament from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and six members of the European Parliament and two members of the British House of Lords.

In addition, three UN special rapporteurs and around 140 non-governmental organisations, including Avaaz, Human Rights Watch and Transparency International EU, have joined the cause.

Social media standouts

Some media platforms have already issued a crackdown on climate misinformation.

Pinterest introduced its own guidelines aimed at ending the circulation of climate-related misinformation, in what it claimed was a first for social media platforms of its size.

TikTok has added climate to its misinformation policy and will begin removing content denying that climate change is real.

However, YouTube has faced criticism for allowing the creators of videos containing climate disinformation to profit from them, despite its promise to demonetise misleading content.

Beyond YouTube, a recent study found that 63% of popular climate denial articles, from sites including Breitbart, still carry Google ads. Google has also, the Center is highlighting, allowed advertising on searches for “climate change is a hoax”, from the Daily Wire.

Comments (2)

  1. Peter Reineck says:

    I can’t help thinking that this initiative is trying to silence opposing viewpoints. The lack of credible opposition voices in the global warming debate is already a scandal. I would like to see a more balanced approach from respected media such as BBC News which is saturated with climate-change angst.

  2. Peter Reineck says:

    Can anyone explain why there is no reply on here yet to my 09:05 post?
    The lack of critical comment about anything really troubles me. I’m beginning to think that the the global warming lobby is addressing me through a megaphone!

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