Digital debate about the environment dominated by disinformation, says FGV ECMI

Environmental issues were a highlight over the year, but the debate on social media shows a strong dissemination of disinformation

The world is currently going through a crisis that is becoming more urgent and prevalent each day: climate change. The recent tragedy involving storms in Rio Grande do Sul, Lula’s speech and the UN, and the ongoing heat wave in the country prompted discussions on the major social media platforms. A study by the School of Communication, Media and Information (ECMI) at FGV showed that, although there has been more engagement around the topic, there is also an increasing presence of conspiracy theories and disinformation. 


According to FGV ECMI researcher Laura Pereira, Whatsapp and Telegram are the environments where these conspiracy theories spread the most. “The interesting thing about the debate is that you cannot deny the existence of climate events. They make an impression and show on the news. Then there is a second level of highly politicized discussion regarding who is to blame. When it comes to the causes, climate negationism appears. They are not denying the event itself, but conspiracy theories appear, such as the idea that climate change is manipulated by globalist movements”, she explained in an interview for O GLOBO.


The topic of climate change has gained space in the digital debate on social media, with more than 1.1 million mentions in the period between January 1 and September 19, 2023, according to the study. Users based the general discussion on social media mostly on conspiracy theories and disinformation posts. Between the peaks of discussion, two topics divided the debate: extreme environmental events, such as the environmental tragedy in Rio Grande do Sul and the current heat wave in the country, and the politicization of the issue, with mentions to Lula’s speech at the UN and the accountability of governments for the current environmental crises.  


See the full study here.




Any opinions expressed by Fundação Getulio Vargas’s staff members, duly identified as such, in articles and interviews published in any media, merely represent the opinions of these individuals and do not necessarily represent the institutional viewpoints or opinions of FGV. FGV Directive Nº 19 / 2018.

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