Breitbart Leads Climate Change Misinformation On Facebook, Study Says

According to a Tuesday study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate that found that only 10 publishers account for almost 70% of Facebook user interactions with climate denial content, a study published Tuesday by the Center for Countering Digital Hate revealed that Breitbart, a far-right news outlet, is the most important source of misinformation on Facebook.

Extinction Rebellion mother group of environmental activists protested outside Google UK Headquarters demanding that... [+] they cease climate deniers profiting from their platforms on October 16, 2019, in London, England. Getty Images

The Key Facts

According to the study, the 10 outlets are referred to as the Toxic Ten by CCDH. They have a total of 186 million social media followers, not accounting for overlap. In addition, they have generated $5.3 million in Google advertising revenue over the past six months. The study showed that Breitbart was the leader, with the alt right website, once run by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, capturing 17% of all platform interaction with misinformation about climate change. The Western Journal, a conservative news and politics website based in Phoenix, was close behind with nearly 16% of all engagement. Facebook created a Climate Science Information Center in September and promised in February that it would attach labels to climate-related posts and expand fact checking to combat misinformation. However, 92% of climate misinformation reviewed by CCDH was not labeled and 99% did not have any additional context or fact checking. Newship, a social media analytics software, was used by the CCDH to identify 7,000 posts on Facebook that were climate change denial. It also helped to calculate engagement rates for October 2020 through October 2021.


The Western Journal and Breitbart are the only two other top 10 outlets that publish climate denial content, according to the study. Newsmax, Townhall Media and the Media Research Center were also included in the list.


Facebook stated in a statement that the CCDH used a flawed methodology and overestimated the impact of climate change misinformation. According to the platform, the CCDH's narrow sampling only accounted for 0.3% of over 200 million Pages interactions and public groups English-language content. According to Facebook, it actively discourages the distribution of content that fact-checkers deem false or misleading. It also rejects ads that have not been verified.

Important Background

Facebook has been repeatedly criticised for the misinformation being shared and distributed on its platform. Particularly problematic is the spread of misinformation about the virus' origins and safety. In July, President Joe Biden stated that Facebook and other social media platforms were spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. A whistleblower has released thousands of documents to media firms. The documents claim that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook allowed celebrities and politicians to break platform rules. However, this exception is only for right-wing news sites like Breitbart. British non-profit CCDH campaigns for tech companies to combat hate speech and misinformation on their platforms. The study called for Google and Facebook not to accept advertising dollars from these outlets, and that Facebook keep its promise to label climate denial posts.

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