Fake facts about climate fooling TikTok users

Is social media helpful or harmful? An investigation has found that videos denying climate change are still racking up millions of views on TikTok.

Did you know that climate change is a hoax — or “the greatest fraud that has been perpetrated on mankind”?

Of course you did not. That is because it is not true.

But that did not stop millions of people on TikTok from seeing videos where people spread wild misinformation about the climate.

The Chinese social media giant banned climate denial from its platform in April. However, an investigation by reporters found that a video calling global warming “the greatest fraud” had been viewed more than nine million times. 

Another video, of a popular podcast, discussed a completely made-up theory that the Earth’s magnetic poles reverse every 6,500 years, “causing heating like we’ve never experienced”. It quickly gained more than 20 million views.

The scientific evidence that global warming is real is overwhelming.

Yet platforms like TikTok are flooded with people who deny this evidence, just as they deny evidence for vaccines or even the nonexistence of Bigfoot.

This has led many to demand ever tougher measures against misinformation. But Dr Doug McNeall, a scientist from the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, wonders if this might be a losing battle.

“Maybe we should focus on promoting good climate science information,” he says, “rather than just removing the content that we perhaps don’t like.”