When Australia-based climate activist Belinda Noble tried to promote a Facebook post with the words ‘climate change’ on it, she was barred from doing so. On the social-media platform, paid boosting of political content is sometimes restricted depending on where the user is, or it might require a long authorisation process. In Noble’s case, her attempts have proved futile because the term ‘climate change’ has been regarded as political, forcing her to find creative ways to circumvent the issue.
Noble is the founder of Comms Declare, an Australian campaign that encourages marcomms agencies to pledge against working with fossil-fuel companies. And publicly posting science-backed facts around climate change is part of what her campaign is required to do. Yet, she laments, major fossil-fuel companies continually use major social-media platforms to further their “greenwashing efforts”.
“I can’t promote any ad with the word ‘climate change’ in it,” she says. “I have to jump through all sorts of hoops to order in order to advertise around that. But I can promote an ad that [promotes] coal or gas.”
Because social media companies rely so heavily on paid advertising to function, that means taking money from some of the most harmful companies on the planet including those that contribute to the climate crisis.