Twitter is tackling climate denialism as an Earth Day treat. The social media platform announced on Friday that it will now ban ads that spout climate change denial and propaganda.
That means blocking ads that are misleading and "contradict the scientific consensus on climate change." That consensus is underscored by the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which Twitter said would help inform its policy. The company said in its announcement that climate denial "shouldn’t be monetized" on the platform, and ads supporting it shouldn't "detract from important conversations about the climate crisis."
"We recognize that misleading information about climate change can undermine efforts to protect the planet," Twitter's director of Sustainability Seán Boyle and global sustainability manager Casey Junod wrote. "In the coming months, we’ll have more to share on our work to add reliable, authoritative context to the climate conversations happening on Twitter."
Twitter implemented a feature last year that directs users to credible information on climate change, which is available in the Explore tab, Search and Trends. If you're the type of person who loves to share or consume climate denial in a non-monetized fashion, though, Twitter will still allow that. Facebook has pursued a similar strategy, creating its so-called Climate Science Center while allowing denial on the platform. The Facebook Papers revealed that the Climate Science Center hasn't been overly effective.
Earlier this month, Pinterest announced that it would take down false and misleading information related to climate change and conspiracy theories in both content and ads, the first policy of its kind to tackle both. Google stopped showing ads on YouTube with false information about climate change last October, but has yet to explicitly ban content containing climate change misinformation. Facebook also labels climate misinformation in posts, though reports show that it only catches about half of the misinformation on its platform.
Though the new policy tackles misinformation, it could be subject to change if Elon Musk's offer to buy the company is successful. Musk has long been a self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist." And while two of his businesses are focused on turning the tide on the climate crisis, he would likely want to reduce content moderation on the platform (in addition to the damn edit button). Whether that means letting a thousand climate denial ads bloom is TBD, though.