Big Brands Are Financing Climate Misinformation Through YouTube

Climate change is one of the most talked-about topics in recent years. Once considered just a myth, climate change has gathered a lot of attention through some of the biggest movie stars, activists and environmental scientists. The mainstream media is now becoming more aware of the abruptly changing environment and a recent event of bushfires across Australia and Amazon fire highlighted the dreadful change in a climate even more. A recent study showed that most of the big brands are facilitating the spread of fake news related to climate change. This might come as a shock to most people but this is not an intentional decision.

The study revealed that some of the biggest brands were busy advertising their products on YouTube videos that were involved in distributing misinformation regarding the climate. These companies are not just common brands, they are mainstream big brands including some of the famous names like Samsung, Decathlon, L’Oreal, etc. However, brands were not familiar with how their advertisements were being run on YouTube.

A senior campaigner openly talked about this and said that this cannot be seen as a free speech. Instead, this the advantage that these brands and giant companies are taking because of the free advertising opportunity that YouTube is giving them by suggesting these misinformed videos. The idea is that since climate change is now being taken so seriously, even the smallest bit of misinformation can cause serious problems for everyone involved. At this point, experts agree that YouTube has to take serious precautionary measures against the growth of misinformation, they shouldn’t feature, promote, advertise or suggest things that can lead to false information.

To address this issue on a personal level, Avaaz an activist group contacted YouTube to help them implement new policies that can help in restricting the spread of fake news on various platforms. They clearly stated that:

· The platform has to include the climate-related misinformation into its borderline content policy and this will help in restricting the algorithm that will further help in video distribution.

· Monetizing plays an important role, so YouTube needs to check the facts first and then demonetize the information that is not correct so the maker of the video does not earn anything from the video. This will also discourage the uploads that are not tested first or simply spread misinformation.

· For checking the information, YouTube has to come up with association with a good fact-checking third-party that will help them to detect if the information is false or misleading on the website.

· YouTube has to ensure complete transparency to the researchers who are working on fact-checking. This has to be done by providing them data about the views and how many viewers have seen this information and what can be done to restrict the algorithm.

Photo: Shutterstock

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