Fake news, incorrect messages and hoaxes have existed for hundreds of years, but their spread has been lightning fast since the rise of social media. Inaccurate information that is deliberately aimed at causing harm is being spread at a rapid pace. A well-known example of disinformation in the energy sector is Shell’s campaign in the ‘90s, through which the company casts doubt and confusion on the findings of climate scientists describing the dangers of global warming. The campaign was intended to prevent government intervention in polluting energy extraction. This while Shell knew about the serious (climate) consequences of using fossil fuels as early as 1986. And also now, in the Ukraine crisis, we have to be careful to distinguish real news from fake news. There is a high tension between real and dishonest intentions to influence us as individuals, but also as a society.
Thus, more and more doubt is cast on knowledge and the intentions of the people or companies spreading knowledge. What role, if any, do journalists have in the fight against disinformation? What role do educational institutions and students have? And how can energy professionals guard against disinformation? We discuss that and more in the April 6 Barn Talk.