Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
According to a recent analysis, Facebook was unsuccessful in enforcing the platform’s own rules on stopping misinformation campaigns regarding the oil and gas industry and the climate crisis throughout the presidential election last year. The report found that there was an increase of ads on the social media platform by several fossil fuel companies which were trying to shape the debate on policies that would address global warming.
Additionally, according to the analysis, although many companies in the fossil fuel industry have moved away from completely denying the climate crisis, a number of them have started using different social media platforms to promote their solutions instead. These companies have started claiming that the fossil fuel industry can help in solving the climate crisis problem. Furthermore, the report also showed that the media platform Facebook played a big role in the spread of false information and wrongful claims about climate change because the platform wasn’t consistent in applying its own policies in regard to false advertising claims.
The report by Influence Map stated that even though the social media platform has publicly supported taking action to solve the climate change issue, users on the platform are still allowed to spread false information. Over 20 gas and oil industry companies have spent at least $9 million to place over 20,000 ads on the platform in the last year, which have been viewed more than 400 million times.
Although the report found Facebook at fault for not enforcing its own platform policies consistently across the board, the fault still lies with the oil and gas industry corporations, which are the ones sharing that misinformation in the first place. Additionally, although Facebook did end up removing some of the misleading ads, there were still disclaimers missing from the ones that remained on the platform, which allowed for misinformation to spread further.
In the past couple of years, Facebook has been continuously criticized for allowing false claims and misinformation to spread rapidly to the public. The first reports surfaced soon after the 2016 US presidential election, where some organizations found that a number of false claims had been made that could have potentially influenced the results of the election.
As marketer Rick De La Croix has noted, “The social media giant has been continuously introducing new solutions and measures in an attempt to combat the rampant spread of misinformation on its platform. However, this recent report stated that not all of those efforts have been as successful as previously hoped.”
Over a decade ago, when Facebook first became a social media platform for the public, it had an incredibly positive reputation with people, and users had a lot of positive opinions of it. However, with the increase in the number of users, and the different features that have been introduced over all those years, the company has been on the receiving end of criticism which has damaged its reputation.
The company has been trying to improve its reputation for several years now, by working with regulators, paying fines, and more. Nevertheless, it seems that it won’t be possible to restore the company’s reputation to its former status from when the platform was first launched for the public.