Facebook to start “fact-checking” climate change posts
08/01/2022 // Divina Ramirez // Views

Facebook will start labeling some posts about climate change similar to how it has labeled posts discussing the coronavirus pandemic and the recent elections, the company announced in February.

The labels will direct users to the platform's Climate Science Information Center, an existing hub that includes articles and data that "debunk common climate myths." Experts from George Mason University, the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the University of Cambridge will oversee the program.

The labels are an addition to Facebook's current practice of flagging posts with climate change misinformation. For now, the labels will appear on posts in the United Kingdom. It will soon come to more countries, including the United States.

This update represents Facebook's latest attempt to weed out lies about climate change as if embracing its role as an arbiter of truth. Previously, Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg had said the company must do away with regulating online speech after former President Donald Trump accused Twitter of censorship.

Now, Zuckerberg has argued that the best way to keep misinformation from spreading on Facebook is not only to flag and remove misleading posts but also to offer users accurate information from authoritative sources.

Facebook did not mention what kind of posts will be labeled, so it is not clear how peer-reviewed studies, news stories and opinion pieces will be classified under this new strategy.

It is not clear how many users have visited the site's Climate Science Information Center to date. However, the company has said that over 600 million people visited a similar information hub with facts and data about COVID-19. Months later, the company launched a "Voting Information Center" for the U.S. elections.


Facebook draws from its previous strategies

Facebook's strategy for tackling so-called climate change misinformation is not unlike what it did about myths surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Beginning in March, the platform put vetted information about the virus at the top of users' news feeds in a bid to 'stop misleading content' from spreading on the network.

The new update seems to be an answer to calls from legislators for Facebook to take more action in preventing the spread of climate change misinformation on the platform.

More than a year ago, some U.S. senators, including Democrat Elizabeth Warren, said there should be no company too big or too powerful to be held accountable for its role in the climate crisis. Facebook is no exception.

The senators had demanded that Facebook answer questions about its fact-checking policies after it was found to have reversed a decision by its fact-checkers to label an op-ed piece "false" for including allegedly inaccurate information about climate change. Under its current guidelines, op-ed pieces are exempt from fact-checking.

Furthermore, spokespeople for Facebook have since maintained that "speech from politicians" was not eligible to be fact-checked.

Facebook found itself in hot waters again after it started removing millions of posts with false information and data about the coronavirus pandemic, including one by Trump. In his post, Trump said the country is learning to live with COVID-19 the same way it learned to live with the flu. Facebook's policy communications manager, Andy Stone, said they delete false information about the severity of the disease.

Last year, Facebook, along with rival platform Twitter, also suspended Trump's account following news that Trump 'sanctioned' the storming of the U.S. Capitol. (Related: The false and exaggerated claims still being spread about the Capitol riot.)

But this new situation is different. Sander van der Linden, a professor of social psychology at the University of Cambridge, said that Facebook is now in a unique position to counter online misinformation. The site's new Climate Science Information Center is a crucial step toward debunking "dangerous falsehoods," he added.

Go to FacebookCollapse.com for more articles about the censorship of Facebook.

Sources include:





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