The worst greenwashers revealed … by a bot
Beware of environmentalists: Now there is a bot that scans social media sites for false claims about climate change.
Called Eco-Bot.Net, the system has already exposed the most severe environmentalists. Among the world’s top 100 emitters – the “carbon majors” – ExxonMobil, CEMEX, Shell and Teck account for the lion’s share of the 1,705 eco-whitewashed ads posted worldwide on Facebook and Instagram this year.
ExxonMobil developed a genuine taste for climate obscuration, throwing $ 4 million in deceptive ads on Facebook and Instagram that garnered seven times more impressions than the next biggest player, CEMEX.
According to the bot’s first “data drop,” which is a “net art research project” launched last week to coincide with COP26, the bulk of ExxonMobile’s ads have been targeted at New York City, which plans to phase out natural gas soon. The fossil fuel giant uses language like this to influence opinions: “ALERT TO ENERGY ACTION: A natural gas ban could limit consumer choice and potentially increase energy costs statewide.” “.
The Eco-Bot.Net system, which is the product of 18 months of work by British artist-researcher Bill Posters, Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, activist Dale Vince and an ensemble of lawyers, journalists, technologists and activists, works by collecting corporate greenwashing ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Ads identified as questionable are then evaluated and verified by an internal team of journalists. These results are then viewed online and reported on the social media platforms where they were found.
The bot has done a good job of catching the major carbon emitters, but the main goal of the project is to get social media giants to limit the spread of climate misinformation like it does with Covid misinformation.
“Mark Zuckerberg is an instigator of climate change disinformation. The same could be said for Jack Dorsey. Why? Because they both retain sole control or enormous influence over the policies of their platforms that amplify and normalize climate disinformation for profit, ”said Bill Posters, artist-researcher, author and activist.
“If they want to retain control or influence, they have to be held accountable. They could easily end most of the damage associated with climate misinformation on their platforms if they wanted to.
“We built this signage system to ask the question, ‘If they can protect people from the damage caused by Covid-19 disinformation, then why can’t they do the same for the climate? ”
Partners include the CASM Technology team at the Center for Analysis of Social Media, the Institute of Strategic Dialogue and ad.watch, and are supported by Arts Council England.
Expect more data drops on other polluting industries as COP26 progresses. It’s unclear if the bot will continue to “champion the digital environment” after the conference ends.