In a move to coincide with Earth Day, Twitter has announced it will no longer accept advertisements on its platform that “contradict the scientific consensus on climate change.”
In what the company calls a “climate-forward approach to ads,” Twitter stated in a blog posted Friday, “People around the world use Twitter to connect with others passionate about protecting our planet.”
“Last year, we introduced a dedicated Topic to help people find personalized conversations about climate change. … To better serve these conversations, misleading advertisements on Twitter that contradict the scientific consensus on climate change are prohibited, in line with our inappropriate content policy,” the blog reads.
While it does not appear at this point that the ban will extend to users’ posts, under Twitter’s existing inappropriate content policy, ads that include such things as dangerous or exploitative content, misrepresentative content, vulgarity, profanity, violence, and distasteful content are already prohibited.
But user content on Twitter is under increased scrutiny, at least in Europe.
The announcement, reports the Associated Press, came just hours before the European Union reached an agreement on the Digital Services Act which requires Big Tech to crack down on “hate speech, disinformation, and other harmful content.”
To determine what defines “the scientific consensus” on the hotly contested subject of climate change, Twitter is relying upon “authoritative sources,” such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to inform their decisions. The IPCC is, according to its website, “the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.”
In other words, it would seem that the United Nations now has the power to either permit or deny a company’s ability to promote its business on Twitter.
“We believe that climate denialism shouldn’t be monetized on Twitter, and that misrepresentative ads shouldn’t detract from important conversations about the climate crisis,” Twitter’s announcement reads.
And Twitter isn’t alone. Its new policy mirrors one already in place at Google.
But what do Twitter’s users have to say about the change?
Well, as expected, many were less than pleased with the development, seeing it as yet another way in which Big Tech is silencing dissenting voices.
Alex Epstein, a self-described “philosopher and energy expert,” responded with a lengthy thread that blasts the IPCC as an “anti-human religious/political organization that systemically denies the rapid, fossil-fueled decline in climate disaster deaths.”
The truth about the IPCC, which Twitter has just given unprecedented status as arbiter of truth on energy and climate issues.https://t.co/xPgxoR9lCw
— Alex Epstein (@AlexEpstein) April 23, 2022
Steve Cortes tweeted, “Scientism, not science,” adding, “Big Tech as Big Brother.”
Scientism, not science
Big Tech as Big Brother… pic.twitter.com/1FdeQ3WcDm
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) April 23, 2022
Cortes’s sentiments were echoed across the platform.
“This doesn’t make sense,” one user tweeted. “Why forbid scientific debate? I want to see/hear all ideas & theories then I’ll make my own decisions. Climate control is not a black/white discussion & there are thousands of subtopics which all need to be logically discussed.”
Others, like rapper and podcaster, Zuby, took a more sarcastic approach, tweeting, “History shows us that the scientific consensus is always correct.”
Another user took aim not at Twitter, but at the Associated Press’s report, stating, “what’s alarming is that the @AP doesn’t question anything. Just a complete lack of curiosity.”
And yet another user summed up the opposition with a Linus meme, proclaiming, “‘trust the science’ is the most anti science statement ever. Questioning science is how you do science!'”
This doesn’t make sense. Why forbid scientific debate? I want to see/hear all ideas & theories then I’ll make my own decisions. Climate control is not a black/white discussion & there are thousands of subtopics which all need to be logically discussed.
— Motherfunker (@theGfunk) April 23, 2022
History shows us that the scientific consensus is always correct.
— ZUBY: (@ZubyMusic) April 23, 2022
But what’s alarming is that the @AP doesn’t question anything.
Just a complete lack of curiosity.
— Luki (@hpygoluki) April 23, 2022
— Longshot75 (@Longshot751) April 23, 2022
As for Twitter, it promises to reveal more about its climate-forward approach in the coming months.
“In the coming months,” Twitter states, “we’ll have more to share on our work to add reliable, authoritative context to the climate conversation happening on Twitter.”
We can hardly wait.
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