Pro-fossil fuel Facebook ads were viewed 431 million times — in one year

Pro-fossil gas advertisements had been seen greater than 431 million occasions on Facebook’s (FB) US platforms in 2020 alone, a report launched Thursday by InfluenceMap discovered.

Despite that huge attain, the oil-and-gas trade spent simply $9.6 million on the advertisements, based on InfluenceMap, a assume tank centered on power and local weather change.

“The oil and gas industry is using a more sophisticated playbook to undermine climate action, which involves the use of more subtle and nuanced messaging tactics,” the report discovered.

Out of the 25 organizations InfluenceMap studied, the largest customers of paid advertisements on Facebook’s US platforms had been ExxonMobil (XOM) and the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s powerful trade group. Exxon and the API accounted for a staggering 62% of the advertisements analyzed by researchers.

“The assertions made are deliberately misleading and completely without merit,” Exxon mentioned in an announcement to CNN Business. “We believe that sound public policy is achieved when a variety of informed voices participate in the political process. For these reasons, ExxonMobil exercises its right to support and participate in policy discussions.”

The API mentioned in an announcement to CNN Business that its “work to inform the debate” is grounded in and validated by authorities and unbiased research.

“Our energy literacy posts on social media are a fraction of the robust investments our companies are making every day into breakthrough technological research to shape a lower carbon future — efforts like methane capture, hydrogen, carbon sequestration and others,” wrote Megan Bloomgren, senior vp on the API.

The report comes as Facebook stays underneath strain for its role in the spread of misinformation, together with lies in regards to the 2020 election.
It’s additionally only a week after a senior Exxon lobbyist appeared to reveal in an undercover video how the oil firm makes use of its political muscle to undercut local weather motion. Exxon CEO Darren Woods condemned and apologized for the feedback that had been caught on tape.

Timed to key political moments

InfluenceMap discovered a pointy bounce in spending on Facebook advertisements within the United States from fossil gas teams on July 15, 2020 — the day after then-candidate Joe Biden introduced his $2 trillion climate plan. Biden’s proposal known as for ending energy plant emissions by 2035 and a pointy discount in fossil gas consumption to combat the local weather disaster.

“The industry is using social media strategically and deploying its ads at key political moments,” the InfluenceMap report mentioned.

The advertisements prevented outright local weather denial. Instead, the messages sought to “prolong the use of oil and gas” by way of extra nuanced messaging ways, the researchers discovered.

One technique employed within the advertisements was to hyperlink the usage of oil and gasoline to sustaining a top quality of life. Another tactic was to attract consideration to voluntary steps the trade has taken on local weather change.

The report recognized 6,782 advertisements selling pure gasoline as “clean or green” — and identified that none of them had been eliminated by Facebook as misinformation or deceptive content material.

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In response to the report, a Facebook spokesperson identified that fossil gas advertisements aren’t unique to social media.

“While ads like these run across many platforms, including on television networks such as CNN, Facebook offers an extra layer of transparency by requiring them to be available to the public in our Ad Library for up to seven years after publication,” the Facebook spokesperson mentioned in an announcement.

Facebook added that the corporate does reject advertisements when an unbiased fact-checking accomplice charges them as false or deceptive.

A Facebook spokesperson mentioned the corporate rejected a number of pro-fossil gas advertisements as a result of they had been run with out correct political advert authorization, including that these accountable have confronted restrictions because of this.

The pure gasoline debate

The researchers mentioned presenting pure gasoline as a low-carbon gas supply “disguises” the truth that it’s largely made up of methane — a greenhouse gasoline that’s much more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping warmth within the ambiance.
That’s why the International Energy Agency mentioned in May that the world needs to stop drilling for oil and gas right now to stop a local weather disaster.

“Presenting fossil gas as a low-carbon fuel has increasingly been targeted by regulators as a misleading claim,” the report mentioned, pointing to how in 2019 UK promoting regulators issued a warning to Equinor primarily based on that very same argument.

However, it’s price noting that not way back pure gasoline was seen by many as a bridge gas that will ease the transition away from coal. For years, the Obama-Biden administration was supportive of natural gas as a cleaner various.
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In its assertion to CNN Business, the API famous that the United States produces, transports and distributes pure gasoline whereas assembly a few of the highest environmental requirements on the planet.

“Coal-reliant economies worldwide consistently turn to natural gas as a cleaner fuel source, enabling the U.S. to export climate progress while strengthening our national security and supporting our economy,” the API’s Bloomgren mentioned.

Exxon described pure gasoline as a “versatile, abundant fuel” that helped to contribute to decrease US emissions since 2000. The firm identified that many nations and states have included a shift to pure gasoline as a part of their carbon-reduction packages.

‘Disinformation marketing campaign’

Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, chairman of the Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, slammed the oil-and-gas trade over the findings within the report.

“For decades, fossil fuel companies have misled the public, to regulators, and to Congress about the true danger posed by their products,” Khanna mentioned in an announcement to CNN Business. “This report proves our knowledge that the industry’s disinformation campaign is alive and well.”

Khanna reiterated that he plans to ask the CEOs of Exxon, Chevron (CVX) and different fossil gas firms to testify earlier than his subcommittee within the coming months.
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InfluenceMap identified that Facebook (FB) continues to obtain advert income from the oil and gasoline trade regardless that the social media firm has publicly dedicated to supporting efforts to fight climate change.

Though Facebook obtained $9.6 million in income for the fossil gas advertisements coated within the report, the researchers mentioned the true determine is probably going greater.

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