4.6 billion people are now connected and exchanging ideas through social media and chat apps. This offers both powerful opportunities for accelerating social change as well as risks from the spread of misinformation of a magnitude different from anything we have experienced in human history. An MIT study found that false news stories are 70 per cent more likely to be retweeted than true news stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.
The spread of misinformation about planetary sustainability topics such as climate change, biodiversity loss or pollution can undermine collective action and trust in institutions as well as magnify polarization and mistrust between divided groups. Trusted sources of information must be more systematically identified and made accessible, and articles containing misinformation flagged or taken down.