If you are among the half of U.S. or U.K. adults who get their news through social media, you might be under the impression that scientific consensus surrounding human-made climate change is still a matter of debate. You would be wrong.
A recent study by Cornell University found that over 99.9% of scientists agree about the impact of human activity on climate change, a level of certainty similar to that of the theory of evolution. And yet that is not the reality that is reflected on Facebook.
When we simulated the experience of a climate-skeptic user on the platform, within a few clicks Facebook’s algorithm recommended content that denied the existence of man-made climate warming and attacked measures aimed at mitigating the climate crisis. Much of this content deployed culture war tactics to polarize debate around climate change and demonize environmental movements.