‘Disinformers’ in region seizing on extreme weather


No, this antenna array at the Jicamarca Radio Observatory near Lima did not cause last year’s unseasonal rains and flooding on Peru’s northern desert coast. (Photo courtesy of Instituto Geofísico del Perú)

When extreme weather caused unseasonal, damaging rains on Peru’s coast, wildfires in Chile, and high winds and flooding in southern Brazil, social media lit up with conspiracy theories. Arsonists, leftists and a high-frequency radio transmitter used for research took the blame in posts that diverted attention from climate change. The cases are documented in “Misinforming Latin America,” a report released in late November by the Climate Action Against Disinformation Coalition and member groups Roots, Friends of the Earth and Purpose. “We wanted to understand how climate information plays out around extreme weather events in Latin America,” considering that such events “have become an opportunity for disinformers to create confusion,” says Max MacBride, counter-disinformation lead for Roots, a program of Greenpeace that works with young people on climate issues. Each case had slightly different characteristics, but all were driven by social media users within the country rather than disinformation... [Log in to read more]

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