A tweet shared by Greta Thunberg in 2018 did not warn that the world would end in five years, as some on social media have implied.
False or misleading claims online have the potential to harm individuals, groups and democratic processes and institutions. Online claims can spread fast and far, and are difficult to contain and correct.
Ms Thunberg’s tweet, which was shared on 21 June 2018, but has since been deleted, read: ““A top climate scientist is warning that climate change will wipe out all of humanity unless we stop using fossil fuels over the next five years.””
It also included a link to a since-deleted article about a speech given by James Anderson—a professor of atmospheric chemistry at Harvard University. Ms Thunberg was quoting the first paragraph of this article.
Neither Ms Thunberg’s tweet, nor the article, explicitly claimed that “we only had five years left before the end of the world” or that “the world would end on June 21, 2023,” as has been suggested on Facebook.
However, it’s also worth noting that Mr Anderson has since said that the article did not accurately reflect his comments.
We’ve not found a video or transcript of Mr Anderson’s speech, but he told Associated Press in March that claims he said humanity would be wiped out were a “complete fabrication”.
Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay also seems to have incorrectly suggested Ms Thunberg was warning the world would end in 2023 in a tweet saying: “The world is still turning 5 years on […] Another doomsday prediction - wrong.”
Image courtesy of Anders Hellberg