Facebook’s New Climate Initiative Doesn’t Fight Fake News

As Rachel Koning Beals wrote for MarketWatch yesterday, “Facebook, long targeted by critics for allowing misinformation on global warming and other environmental developments to populate users’ social-media feeds unchecked, announced it will launch a new information hub to provide “science-based information” about climate change.”

NPR’s All Things Considered further explained that “Users in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany are seeing links and information from Facebook’s Climate Change Information Center starting Tuesday. It’s similar to the COVID-19 information page launched in March.”

This announcement comes days after officials responding to wildfires in Oregon had to fight rumors that certain groups had intentionally caused fires, leading to chaos and confusion during an emergency.

Why This Matters: While more information is all well and good, ultimately it will not stop the spread of fake news. As Dylan Byers wrote for NBC News, “Facebook will not change its approach to combating climate misinformation outside the hub. It will continue to apply warning labels to demonstrably false information, but will not take down posts unless they pose an immediate safety risk.” And that’s the piece that desperately needs addressing.

Not everyone is convinced that Facebook is committed to elevating climate coverage, especially when the tech behemoth censored a climate scientist’s post earlier this summer at the same time that they allowed climate change propaganda to go unchecked. In responding to a letter from Senators led by Elizabeth Warren, Facebook explained that it has two standards for climate-fact checking which ultimately allow misinformation to proliferate.

Green Cred: Additionally, in an effort to address its greenhouse gas emissions, Facebook also pledged to slash greenhouse gases and purchase enough renewable energy and offsets to cancel out carbon dioxide emissions from its global operations this year. The company also set a goal to reach net-zero from its supply chain, employee commuting, and business travel by 2030.

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