top of page

CLIMATE CHANGE DISINFORMATION TARGETS SPECIFIC SOCIAL MEDIA AND SLOVAKIA GAINS A NEW PRIME MINISTER

September 28 - October 4, 2023 | Issue 34 - EUCOM

Sophia Ritscher, Barbara Batycka, Jennifer Radlinsky

Mia Sadler, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor


Wildfire[1]


Date: September 28, 2023

Location: Worldwide

Parties involved: Environmental organizations GreenLatinos, Friends of the Earth, and Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD); social media platform X (formerly Twitter); social media platform Telegram; Spanish-speaking social media users; political parties; climate skeptics

The event: According to a recent report published by GreenLatinos and Friends of the Earth, Spanish-speaking social media users are increasingly targeted with disinformation regarding climate change and renewable energy. Common narratives involve claims that people deliberately started wildfires to make way for renewable energy ventures like wind turbines and solar farms. Some posts falsely suggest that these projects are detrimental to wildlife and the environment, intending to sabotage renewable energy initiatives. The report notes a surge of misinformation during extreme weather events, matching language and type of misinformation with the targeted community. Climate-related disinformation is most prevalent on X, ranked last on a scale by CAAD, which ranks different social media platforms according to their approach to tackling climate change misinformation.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Failure to enforce strict climate-related disinformation policies on social media platforms will very likely continue to impact users' perception of renewable energy significantly. This failure will almost certainly create echo chambers and radicalize climate skeptics. Hostile entities will almost certainly utilize platforms allowing a fast spread of fake news like X and Telegram for their disinformation efforts, very likely aiming to exacerbate the negative perception of renewable energy and climate change among unsuspecting users. Threat actors will very likely exploit the reliance of Spanish-speaking social media users on these platforms, resulting in false narratives reaching a wider audience and entering mainstream media.

  • Targeting individuals during the aftermath of natural disasters will very likely result in increased spread of dis- and misinformation, likely causing delays in the recovery and prevention process. Affected communities are likely to develop distrust and resentment toward their governments, likely believing they are not taking appropriate safety measures. There is a roughly even chance that affected individuals blame government measures for the effects of extreme weather events, resulting in refusals to participate in governmental relief and recovery processes.

  • Political parties rejecting climate activism will very likely exploit existing political polarization by engaging with social media accounts that spread climate-related disinformation. These actors very likely seek to profit from fear of extreme weather events and sow doubt about the reality and urgency of tackling climate change. Organized disinformation campaigns almost certainly contribute to public confusion and political inaction, very likely resulting in political parties attempting to increase their voter base by appealing to climate skeptics and pushing a conservative narrative.


Date: October 1, 2023

Location: Slovakia

Parties involved: Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova; Slovakia; Slovakian Prime Minister-elect and Populist Smer leader Robert Fico; social democratic and left-wing populist political party Smer; liberal political party Progressive Slovakia (PS); social-democratic and left-wing political party Hlas; ultranationalist Slovak National Party; former Deputy of Smer Peter Pellegrini; Slovakian citizen; Ukraine; Russia; EU; European populist political parties; Visegrad Group (V4) consisting of Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia

The event: Fico was elected Slovakian Prime Minister on Sunday. Fico previously served twice as Slovakian Prime Minister and gained votes through promises of withdrawing support for Ukraine, an anti-EU stance, and a pro-Russian sentiment. The Smer party does not have the majority and will need to form a coalition government with one of the remaining parties: the PS, the Hlas Party, or the SNS. Smer's electoral success is part of a larger trend of the political spectrum moving towards populism in eastern and central Europe.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Fico’s populist, right-wing government will very likely reduce Slovakia’s military aid deliveries to Ukraine and oppose its bid to join the EU. Slovakia will very likely stop delivering munition and artillery to Ukraine and likely dispute new EU aid packages involving military equipment. Fico likely opposes assisting Ukraine to strengthen Slovakia’s relations with Russia and solidify his support among the Slovakian population Future Ukraine’s bid for EU membership will very likely be opposed by Slovakia, likely due to the V4 lobbying and caution about Russian implications.

  • The Smer’s election victory will almost certainly necessitate partnering with the other parties to create a coalition government. Fico will very likely partner with the parties providing him with the most governing power, likely temporarily downplaying his hardline pro-Russian positions to gain support. Fico will almost certainly attempt to form a coalition with Hlas first, as Pelligrini voiced opposition to cooperating with Smer, very likely prolonging government formation talks.

  • Fico’s win will very likely empower populist movements in other European countries, almost certainly affecting regional geopolitics. The V4 will very likely increase cooperation based on a shared rise in populist alignment and will almost certainly push for more populist policies on the regional sphere, likely creating a voting block. The main points of contention between the Eastern and Western European blocks will almost certainly center around migration policies, Russian sanctions, and future support for Ukraine, likely leading to regional instability and further alienation of the V4.

 

[2] Spanish-language misinformation about renewable energy spreads online, report finds, NBC News, September 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna117631

[3] Pro-Russian party wins Slovakia's election, but not outright, EuroNews, October 2023, https://www.euronews.com/2023/10/01/pro-russian-party-wins-slovakias-election-but-not-outright

Comments


bottom of page