Facebook steps up its fight against climate misinformation, critics say efforts fall short

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Sep 17, 2021, 10:08 AM(IST)

Mark Zuckerberg Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

During the 2021 April congressional hearing, the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that climate misinformation is “a big issue”

Facebook has announced various new efforts to combat climate crisis misinformation on its platform. These include expanding its climate science centre to provide more reliable information, investing in organizations that fight misinformation, and launching a video series to highlight young climate advocates on both Facebook and Instagram.

However, as per critics, the new push falls short and will allow vast amounts of climate misinformation to slip through the cracks.

During the 2021 April congressional hearing, the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that climate misinformation is “a big issue”. 

Also, in the past, the company has said such misinformation accounts for “a very low percentage of total misinformation on the service” but declined to share figures.

As per the climate change and misinformation experts, the lies on the platform can spread quickly. 

Also read | Facebook documents show how toxic Instagram is for teens: Reports

The climate denial watchdog groupInfluenceMap in October 2020 found dozens of climate denial ads had been viewed more than 8m times after slipping through the social network’s filters.

In March, 13 environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace, sent a letter to Zuckerberg, calling on him to commit to monitoring climate disinformation and provide more transparency about the scale of the problem.

A recent study by Friends of the Earth, an environmental organization, has revealed that about 99 per cent of climate misinformation about the February 2021 power outages in Texas went unchecked.

The study further found misleading reports that wind turbines were at fault in the outage that had run rampant on the social media platform.

It also showed how such theories make their way from the fringes of Facebook to the mainstream.

Facebook rejected the study’s findings, calling its characterization “misleading”. 

However, Michael Khoo, co-chair of the climate disinformation coalition for Friends of the Earth, argues that the data “shows that

Facebook and other tech platforms must take far stronger action to limit the super-spreaders, and not put the burden on ordinary users”.

There have been various other stories that have revealed that other climate crisis-denying posts and resources outpacing accurate information on the platform.

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