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Social media is at the forefront of ‘climate deception’, Harvard report reveals

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Car brands, airlines and fossil fuel companies are using social media to greenwash their reputations, according to a new investigation from Harvard University.The report, commissioned by Greenpeace, says its findings show how companies in Europe exploit people’s concerns about the environment to spread disinformation online.“Social media is the new frontier of climate deception and delay,” says Geoffrey Supran, lead author of the study.The history of science researcher says that while Europe was experiencing its hottest summer on record, “some of the companies most responsible for global heating stayed silent on social media about the climate crisis.”He adds that they instead used language and imagery to position themselves as “green, innovative, charitable brands.”The report looked at more than 2,000 posts from 375 accounts across a wide variety of different social media platforms.

They included 12 of the biggest car brands, five of the biggest airlines and five of the largest fossil fuel companies.Researchers used established social science methods to assess images and text posted by these companies.They found that only one in five “green” car adverts analysed actually sold a product - the rest served to present a brand as green.One in five adverts from oil, car and airline companies also used sports, fashion or social causes to distract attention away from their core business roles and responsibilities - or ‘misdirection’ as the report calls it.Two-thirds of posts from these companies focused on “green innovation” in their business operations which the authors say represents a variety of different types of greenwashing.Only a handful of all posts actually made explicit references to climate change.Specific imagery was

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