Can web platforms influence our attitude towards climate change?
Access to online information is mainly via search engines, social networks and video platforms on which uncontrolled information circulates. The underlying algorithms return customized results based on user requests that can act as a "filter bubble" of information. The WebClim project addresses these issues of access to information and public attitudes in the area of climate change.
Most of the public’s access to online information is now made via search engines, video platforms and social media. These platforms have come under heavy criticism over the past few years for their participation to the circulation of misinformation and “fake news” to a broad audience. Several platforms have announced taking steps to increase the integrity of information and fight disinformation campaigns. But there is little data available to track the efficiency of these measures and the impact they have on information sharing, public access to information and attitudes.
The Webclim project investigates the extent to which the practices and algorithms of web platforms contribute to shaping the public’s access to climate information and their attitudes towards climate change.
In this project, we are developing methodologies to monitor and document the effects of algorithmic personalization and the temporal changes introduced by platforms to their recommendation engines. This will allow us to study how results to frequent climate queries are changing over time, and the extent to which personalization contribute to enclose people in “information bubbles”.
We are also designing experimental protocols to investigate how changes in access to climate information on platforms might influence public understanding of climate change and attitude towards climate policies.
The WebClim project was selected within the framework of the call for projects of the "Make our planet great again" programme (MOPGA) and received the support of the French National Research Agency under the "France’s Investments for the Future" programme (ANR-19-MPGA-0005).