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During the U.S. presidential election, fossil fuel industries did not shy away from spending money, according to a report by an environmental lobbyist.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> © Getty – Pramote Polyamate

© Getty – Pramote Polyamate


According to a report by InfluenceMap, a London-based think tank, Facebook is not very rigorous when it comes to enforcing its own rules about misinformation and fossil fuel advertising. This is evidenced by data from an ad campaign during the U.S. presidential campaign in which the oil and gas industry tried to influence millions of Americans.

“Despite Facebook’s public support for climate action, it continues to allow its platform to be used to spread fossil fuel propaganda,” says Bill Weihl, founder of ClimateVoice and former director of sustainability at Facebook. Not only is Facebook improperly enforcing its existing advertising policies, but it is clear that these policies do not address the critical need for urgent climate action. If Facebook is serious about its climate commitments, it needs to ask itself if it is willing to continue taking money from fossil fuel companies.

Ads viewed 431 million times

The ads were used to promote a supposedly climate-friendly industry, investments in renewable energy or the continued role of oil and gas in the energy mix. Other ads featured outright misleading content. Researchers found 25,147 ads from just 25 oil and gas organizations on Facebook’s U.S. platforms in 2020, which were viewed more than 431 million times. These companies spent almost $10 million on advertising. ExxonMobil, an oil company, accounted for nearly half of that spending.

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And fossil fuel companies have adapted to Facebook’s new rules, getting smarter about the type of content offered. “This industry is using a range of communication techniques that are far more nuanced than their former categorical statements denying the climate crisis,” the report notes. Some of the most significant techniques link the use of oil and gas to the maintenance of a good quality of life and highlight the actions taken by the industry to address the crisis.ie to fight climate change.”

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]>© Influencemap

It’s also the timing of the spending that’s interesting here. These increased dramatically immediately after Joe Biden’s climate plan was announced in July 2020, and collapsed in November 2020, just after he emerged victorious in the presidential election. It doesn’t take much to deduce that these ads were truly political, and supportive of one of the candidates. Especially since the geographic targeting of these ads is also interesting since it concerned the producer states (Texas, Alaska, California, etc.), but also what is commonly called the swing states (Pennsylvania, Iowa and Ohio), these states that usually tip the election to one side or the other.