Climate change conspiracies are spreading rapidly during UN’s COP26 event

Conspiracy theories promoting climate change skepticism and denial spread rapidly across the internet before the United Nations continued COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

A large volume of climate change denial content was amplified by bots and social media influencers starting in June, according to researchers at Blackbird.AI. The tech company’s platform uses machine learning algorithms to scan millions of posts across major social networks — including Twitter, Telegram, fringe sites and more — and, with the help of human analysts, has identified four major climate denial trends targeting climate change in the United States and Europe. Policies.

Much of this content used mechanisms that were also effective in amplification COVID-19 Disinformation and vaccine hesitation, Blackbird.AI CEO Waseem Khaled said.

“We found that climate change disinformation trends on social networks are borrowing from topics that have been instrumental during the coronavirus crisis,” he told CBS MoneyWatch. “Representatives seem to direct the anger already simmering in American politics toward climate change denial. Our platform notes that this is a coordinated campaign that appears to be a series of overlapping independent campaigns, taking place on a large scale.”

Here are some unfounded or questionable ideas regarding climate change that circulated online prior to the UN COP26 event.

The plot: Climate change lockdowns are coming

Unknown actors are targeting audiences gathering on social platforms to protest COVID-19 lockdowns with plots that the world’s governments will enter “climate change lockdowns” and “herald a new era of social control and political authoritarianism in the name of protecting the environment,” according to Blackbeard.

In October 2020, an opinion piece titled “Avoiding a Climate Lockdown” that appeared on Project Syndicate, a respected media nonprofit that provides commentary and analysis on current affairs, was linked to nearly 3,500 accounts – 498 of which appear to be bots, and the last 49 of them so far. It seems related to influencers.

“It makes sense that this audience could be used as a springboard for related conspiracy theories,” Khaled said. “In many ways, the pandemic has made social media users more accepting of conspiracies,” he noted.

Conspiracy: Crypto-Neutral Cryptocurrency and Its Regulation is an Authoritarian Grab Attempt

In early June, Senator Elizabeth Warren named for policies that reduce the impact of “environmentally wasted cryptocurrencies.” This sparked a large number of misleading posts that dismissed the well-documented environmental concerns about Energy needed to mine bitcoin They described Democrats in Massachusetts as “authoritarians.” While the real energy cost of crypto mining is Accuracy in degrees of differenceAccording to Blackbird, several social media posts have stated that cryptocurrency production is a “carbon neutral process” and ensured that the economic benefits of digital money outweighed the negative environmental impact.

Blackbird’s social media sample found nearly 3,800 posts spreading rumors or conspiracies about cryptocurrency and the environment, 2,105 of which appear to be unreliable or manipulated.

“A lot of the climate change plots are hidden and are being recruited by really active and active groups,” Khaled said. “In contrast to a traditional marketing campaign designed to attract and convert a broad audience, the goal appears to be to sow suspicion in groups who are already suspicious of government.”

The conspiracy: Climate change is exaggerated – not caused by humans

More than 14% of Blackbird’s sampled social media posts seem to undermine, rather than attack them directly, the scientific consensus that humans have played a role in climate change, seemingly an attempt to sow confusion and suspicion. Rather than denying this phenomenon, for example, pre-COP26 disinformation challenged mathematical models linking climate change to human activity.

“One of the themes that we see recurring is that the damage from climate change is being made or exaggerated by the international scientific community,” Khaled said. It’s not the most widespread plot, but it is effective in creating confusion.

Conspiracy: Climate change as a result of secret government experiments

One of the most creative conspiracies circulating on social media during the UN COP26 event is the misconception that climate change is caused by a state-funded program called the Active High-frequency Auroral Research Program (HAARP). Khaled said this is a kind of “chemtrail” conspiracy theory.

Blackbird found that the long-debunked HAARP conspiracy theory is still rife among bots and non-original accounts, especially on Twitter. More than 17% of the publications in their sample published the theory.

“Online conspiracies like to assign nefarious motives to cliched, factual research programs, such as the misconception that geoengineering projects are a front for government-controlled weather modification initiatives,” he said.

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