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Wellness influencer posts cause major concern among fact-checkers: ‘A very convenient community that they could infiltrate’

Influencers spreading misinformation isn’t anything new.

Influencers spreading misinformation isn't anything new.

Photo Credit: iStock

With social media becoming a common go-to news source, misinformation is rampant. Fact-checkers are working overtime to monitor the accelerated world capable of going viral with just one click. 

Cecile Simmons, a part-time yoga instructor and full-time misinformation researcher, noticed several health and wellness influencers posting conspiracies about the planet’s changing climate on Instagram, as reported by Heated. 

Because it was an odd and concerning trend, she decided to dig into it further. Using the posts of 154 influencer accounts with over 9.5 million followers combined, her findings were published by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue

According to the report, top themes included false claims, full-on rejection, and skepticism of our changing change and its impact on natural disasters and animal agriculture, claiming that the change is deliberate manipulation by the government for control. 

“These are people who you would expect to be invested in climate and the environment,” said Simmons. 

Unfortunately, influencers spreading misinformation isn’t anything new. In fact, disinformation is at the very top of the agenda at this year’s United Nations Climate Summit in Dubai.

Recent reports revealed that Americans are a large majority of climate skeptics in the world. Climate Action Against Disinformation found that the hashtag #climatescam generated more retweets and likes than #climatecrisis and #climateemergency on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Influencers are often paid for what they post, and sponsored content typically has a sales-driven agenda that isn’t backed by science. 

Industries that rely on dirty energy, for example, can’t afford to let science win. Their survival depends on disrupting real climate action, and now they have echo chambers to accomplish just that. 

With post-pandemic fears exacerbated, Jennie King, the head of climate research and policy at ISD, believes that the timing was no coincidence. “So for those who had already been trying to spread the belief that the climate agenda was a precursor to tyranny, it was a very convenient community that they could infiltrate.”

“The core issue is platforms giving a small group of people an outsized voice, over a debate that the vast majority of the public and all credible scientists agree upon,” said Michael Khoo, co-chair at Friends of the Earth.

The Rainforest Alliance has compiled a list of responses for common climate denier arguments, saying, “Given the urgency of the climate crisis, it’s crucial that we all do our part to educate any doubters we might encounter.”

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