Oil Producers Use Facebook Against Biden’s Clean Energy Message


Shortly after, then-presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr., Unveils $2 trillion climate plan Last year, the world’s largest oil and gas company, which pledged to increase clean energy use in the United States, opened its presence on Facebook.

Overnight on Facebook’s US platforms, the 25 largest oil and gas producers, industry lobby groups, and advocacy organizations caused a surge in ads promoting fossil fuels, according to ad spend data. Analyzed by InfluenceMapis a London-based watchdog that monitors institutional impact on climate policy.

The following week, mass ad spend by companies like Exxon Mobil and powerful lobbying groups like the American Petroleum Institute rose more than 1,000 percent, from around $6,700 a day for the seven-day average to over $86,000. According to the data, a day counted by the statements made by Facebook and by InfluenceMap. For all of 2020, some 25,147 ads recorded more than 431 million views and brought Facebook nearly $10 million in ad revenue from those ads.

“Do you support America’s pipelines? We all rely on this critical infrastructure for affordable energy sources!” said an ad It will be driven by Exxon from July 15, 2020, the day after Mr. Biden’s climate announcement. “Natural gas is already clean, affordable and efficient – and it’s getting better every day.” said an ad It will launch on July 20 by the American Petroleum Institute.

Of the 25 companies and groups, Exxon and API were the largest users of paid ads on Facebook’s US platforms in 2020, accounting for 62 percent of the total ads analyzed by InfluenceMap. The analysis found that ads were shown to more men than women overall, but there were some differences: posts focused on fossil fuels as part of the climate solution were shown to more women, while oil and gas was an economically pragmatic choice, he argued. was shown to more men.

Recent research has highlighted that although natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal or oil and emits less greenhouse gases, which are the drivers of global warming, there are heavy emissions associated with producing the gas. Scientists, environmentalists and, increasingly, regulators have described the portrayal of gas as a low-carbon fuel as misleading.

In a statement, Facebook pointed out that similar ads were broadcast on many platforms, including television, and drew attention to the fact that the social networking platform offers transparency by making advertising data available. (Many major traditional news organizations, including The New York Times, also accept ads from oil companies.) Facebook’s advertising policies also prohibit ads with misleading information and require that those related to social or political issues be clearly labeled.

“We reject ads when one of our independent verification partners considers them false or misleading and we take action against pages, groups, accounts and websites that consistently post content that is deemed false,” Facebook said.

Exxon spokesman Todd M, Spitler said the oil producer believes “solid public policy is achieved through the involvement of a variety of knowledgeable voices in the political process.” For these reasons, Exxon Mobil exercises its right to participate in and support policy discussions.” API spokesperson Megan Bloomgren said the lobby group’s social media spend is “part of the solid investment our companies make every day in groundbreaking technological research to shape a lower carbon future.”

Harvard University researcher Geoffrey Supran studied the fossil fuel industry’s climate messagessaid InfluenceMap’s findings are consistent with their research. InfluenceMap has identified several different types of messaging in Facebook ads that have become part of the industry’s playbook, including the offering of oil and gas as part of the solution to climate change, he said.

“What our research shows is that over the past decade the industry has gradually shifted from overt disinformation about climate science to more subtle and sly messages,” he said. But these messages “work to muddy the waters for the same purpose – that is to stop action against climate change,” he said. “Media and communication platforms need to stop being used – they need to stop being pawns of fossil fuel propaganda and protect the public.”

The analysis comes as a big part of Mr. Biden’s climate vision, with the $1 trillion infrastructure package moving forward in Congress with significant investment aimed at addressing climate change. But this away from the wider package It angered climate advocates that Mr. Biden sought to extend a lifeline to fossil fuels by also dedicating some funding to natural gas infrastructure.

Facebook new political ads temporarily suspended ahead of the US presidential election in November to reduce misinformation and interference. The social networking site has since lifted this ban, and most of the groups tracked by InfluenceMap continue to post ads.

“While this research focuses on 2020, the reality is that the oil and gas industry continues to use Facebook as an important tool,” said Faye Holder, who wrote the InfluenceMap report.


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