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Top brands sign open letter demanding leaders and tech giants deplatform climate lies

By John Glenday | Reporter

November 9, 2021 | 4 min read

Major brands have thrown their weight behind demands that Cop26 leaders and technology giants take action to stem the flow of climate misinformation.

An open letter penned by the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), a voluntary coalition of brands and civil organizations, has been signed by household names including Ben & Jerry’s, Virgin Media O2, Sky and SSE, which call out the association of lucrative ad spend associated with accounts and pages propagating climate misinformation.

Supporters list three key demands for the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow to address. These include a universal definition of climate dis- and misinformation. Signatories also called on tech platforms to implement and enforce policies that starve climate change deniers of ad platforms and algorithm airtime.

COP26

Ben & Jerry’s, Virgin Media O2, SSE and Sky have signed an open letter demanding action on climate misinformation

The letter has been prompted by a realization that climate misinformation has become a business, with nefarious social media accounts capitalizing on the attention and publicity afforded to the conference by driving alternative conspiracy theories. Research by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate identified ten publishers – ‘The Toxic Ten’ – responsible for pushing the majority (69%) of all climate change denial content.

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CAN co-founder Jacob Dubbins said: “There isn’t a universally-agreed definition of climate dis- and misinformation, and most online platforms don’t have climate dis- and misinformation policies. Clearly, we need both of these in order to combat misinformation that can seriously halt developments we are making to limit global warming to 1.5C.”

Explaining their support, Suzie Rook, head of brand and design, SSE, and Fiona Ball, group director, Bigger Picture, Sky, added: “This is a moment when businesses, including Cop26 Principal Partners, SSE and Sky, climate experts, academics, campaigners and civil society are coming together to demand global action on climate dis- and misinformation. Climate dis- and misinformation is an obstacle in the efforts to keep 1.5 in reach and deliver real climate action. In order to fight it, we must have a common definition. The time is now.”

Earlier this year InfluenceMap observed that of 51 climate misinformation ads running in the US during the first half of 2020, only one had been taken down by Facebook.

The climate focus follows a push by advertisers demanding that social media platforms do more to combat racist abuse from football fans.

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