Headlines are how we find out what’s happening in the world. The mainstream media has become very adept at telling us what’s newsworthy and how to think about it by the headlines it chooses. With just a few corporations holding the strings, it’s been quite simple for those with a vested interested in denying climate change to buy headlines, setting an anti-science agenda for an entire culture.
Reality Drop, the latest endeavor of Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project, attempts to combat this well-funded misinformation with the power of social media. The networking site gathers headlines from global media and then contrasts them to actual scientific research. Participants can then earn points by sharing the articles or joining in the discussion.
Developed through a collaboration with the website Skeptical Science, Reality Drop curates hundreds of online news articles daily for headlines that demand a response—whether it’s a misleading quote from a climate denier or a heated debate raging in the comments section. The website also catalogs more than one hundred of the most pervasive and topical climate myths, and distills complex science into simple and succinct rebuttals that can be shared on social networks or on comment threads beneath news articles.
Members are rewarded for sharing articles about climate change from all perspectives on Reality Drop. Stories about climate truths are displayed in green and stories spreading myths are displayed in red.
“More and more, readers of online publications are leading by steering the public conversation, which is why Reality Drop is both timely and powerful,” said Maggie L. Fox, President and CEO of The Climate Reality Project. “We hold the media accountable to report the real facts, and we educate our communities about the reality we are facing together. Reality Drop connects and empowers these communities to engage in a fact-based conversation about climate change, and have fun in the process.”
While it seems like a simple way to get people talking about actual climate science, some wonder whether dangling online badges in front of Facebook game addicts is really the right approach. A brief investigation from FastCo Exist found that people often just copied and pasted comments directly from the Reality Drop website, leaving a string of spammy-looking responses on article forums. “Is gathering people en masse to parrot talking points really effective? If a bunch of climate deniers did the same thing, it’s doubtful that Reality Drop proponents would let it sway them,” points out the author.
Still, it is likely to be a welcome resource to those of us tired of scrambling for a rebuttal every time a curmudgeonly relative throws a Fox News headline into the discussion.