Facebook hires Koch-funded group to fact check climate content


Photo: AFP

Despite its series of scandals and failure stop the spread of fake news, Facebook has continued to acquire new users. In fact, the behemoth company’s latest effort to curb misinformation on its platform (including climate denial) was met with dismay by the environmental community. As Think Progress reported, “Facebook’s fact-checking effort announced last week that it was teaming up with CheckYourFact.com — an arm of the conservative, anti-science media site The Daily Caller. The Daily Caller, which has published misinformation about climate science for years, was co-founded by the science-denying Fox News host Tucker Carlson and is backed by major conservative donors, including Charles and David Koch, the billionaire fossil fuel barons who are the single biggest funders of climate science misinformation.”

As leading climate scientist Michael Mann expressed to Think Progress, “It is appalling that Facebook has teamed up with a Koch-funded organization that promotes climate change denial. Facebook must disassociate itself from this organization.”

Environmental sociologist Robert Brulle also told Think Progress that he’s baffled that Facebook has partnered with an organization that’s part of the right-wing echo chamber to fact check facts about climate change. He added that “This is one of the sites that needs to be fact checked, not used as a reliable source. Facebook should cancel this contract.”

For those wondering if Check Your Fact is as bad as climate change leaders are making it out to be, Grist has demonstrated that the answer is sadly, yes

“In February 2018 the site was found to be “compliant or partially compliant” with the Poynter’s International Fact Checking Network Board’s standards, though the site was placed under review in November for not clearly listing its funders. Recently, Check Your Fact looked at President Trump’s claims that wind turbines cause cancer, and found them to be false. However, their statement also included quotes from National Wind Watch, an anti-wind advocacy group.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Facebook has hired partisan fact-checkers. As Think Progress explained, “In the fall of 2017, Facebook named the climate science-denying Weekly Standard an official fact-checking partner, against the advice of an independent report.”

Why This Matters: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that he will not stop fake news and conspiracies from being posted on the platform, instead his company will merely reduce the content’s distribution by hiring “fact checkers” such as Check Your Fact. If the group that’s hired to check facts has a political agenda it will likely mean that climate denial and other conspiracies will still be viewable by Facebook users. This is a double whammy as a new report has revealed that network news has failed to accurately describe the dire urgency of climate change. It means that people are not being adequately informed about climate change through the news they watch and might be getting their only understanding of the issue from fake news posts from their social networks. This story underscores the need for network and cable news to make climate change and the environment top issues to cover so that Americans have access to accurate information.

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