Welcome to week 2 of COP27! We're back with a sample of the disinfo readout from over the weekend, and friends, things are not pretty.
Greta Thunberg is no stranger to being harassed, but across social media sites, CAAD's monitoring found that "posters questioned or 'joked' about whether Thunberg was a biological woman, allegedly ‘exposing’ the teenager and her mother as secretly male. Some also claimed she was somehow related to George Soros or the Rothschild family, to add some anti-semitic conspiracism into the cis/hetero-normativity." And that's just the start.
Because while people like Michael Shellenberger "doubled down" on attacks after the narrative that Thunberg was out to destroy capitalism" was dismissed by Thunberg via her Twitter account on November 2, the fringe online outlets Elon Musk wants Twitter to emulate were far worse.
A warning: The links out in this next section contain extreme and disturbing content. While some "initially attacked Greta due to her climate activism or alleged declarations against capitalism," others on 4chan have "descended into sexually targeting the 19-year-old activist." It's not just there, either, as "sexual content was found on platforms such as Gettr and Telegram alongside explicit calls to violence - one post suggests Thunberg should be incinerated, while on Gab a 'cartoon' depicts Greta as a mermaid being blown up while sabotaging the Nord Stream pipeline."
And "if content is not attacking Greta, it will often shamelessly co-opt her advocacy, using critiques of COP27 to validate pushback on negotiations and wider climate action… US climate denier, and founder of Climate Depot, Marc Morano is attending the summit in Sharm el-Sheik with live updates on social media - last week he appeared on OANN claiming he would be “supporting Greta’s message that this is a scam for greenwashing, lying and cheating.”
Speaking of cheating, would you trust a convicted fraud who's telling you 'gas is good, actually'? No? Well good, you shouldn't! And neither should the UN, which is why Chloe Farand's recent bombshell at ClimateHome caused such a commotion. Farand reported last week that NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber and (until Farand's story broke) involved with a UN-linked project, was "convicted of fraud in the US for impersonating a congressman" and "investigated for money laundering by Ghana’s central bank. " After that, he got into trouble with his oil and gas-brokering law firm after "Ayuk showed up at a branch with two bags containing $2.5m in cash, to deposit."
In response to this reporting, the African Energy Chamber "published a press release 'reply' in which Ayuk falsely labels Farand, a professional journalist, as "a very wealthy activist with close ties to radical group Extinction Rebellion." Ayuk also uses the well-worn technique of disinformers to "just ask questions" regarding her funding. ClimateHome discloses its biggests sponsors on the About page, which Ayuk clearly visited as he references the ‘whiteness’ of the organisation to distract from their reporting on his fraud conviction and money laundering investigation."
It turns out "The Pan African Communications Consultancy, APO Group, distributed and amplified the article via the PR distribution service Accesswire, which has (paid) access to several news outlets… CAAD’s research has identified 170 articles repurposing the text of their press release (link). Notably, Yahoo and the Associated Press picked up the article and published the press release with the mention “Paid content from Accesswire.”
And the best/worst/funniest part? The African Energy Chamber’s original release also used the wrong photo illustration, including a picture of E3G researcher Sonia Dunlop instead of Farand - multiple syndicated outlets followed suit, failing to update when AEC eventually corrected itself and swapped the images.
They can't even figure out which woman they're attacking!