October 27, 2021

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Facebook Continues Fight Against Misinformation, Plans To Debunk Climate Change Myths

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Topline

Facebook announced Thursday it will add a new section to its expanding climate change information hub to combat the spread of misinformation related to global climate change, further embracing its role as an arbiter of truth, which founder Mark Zuckerberg has long claimed was not the company’s job.

Key Facts

The newly added section will feature “current and specific facts” (including data related to polar bear populations declining due to global warming) that “debunk common climate myths,” the social media company proclaimed in a statement.   

Experts from George Mason University, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the University of Cambridge will oversee the program. 

Its Climate Science Information Center aims to connect people with “science-based news, approachable information and actionable resources.”

Facebook will start adding information labels to climate change posts that direct people to its information hub.

That hub is available in France, Germany, the U.K, and U.S. and is being expanded to Belgium, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Spain, South Africa and Taiwan.

Crucial Quote: 

“The spread of damaging falsehoods endangers the level of international cooperation required to prevent catastrophic global warming,” said Dr. Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge. “Facebook is in a unique position to counter the circulation of online misinformation, and the new climate ‘mythbusting’ section is an important step toward debunking dangerous falsehoods.”

Key Background:

Early last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he didn’t believe social networks should be responsible for fact-checking politicians. “I don’t think that Facebook or internet platforms, in general, should be arbiters of truth,” Zuckerberg told CNBC last May. However, last summer, the company began rolling out information hubs to confront the dissemination of misinformation on its platform. In August, Facebook launched a voting information center to give Americans the “tools and information they need to make their voices heard at the ballot box.” Earlier this month, the company announced it would run “the largest worldwide campaign to promote authoritative information” about Covid-19 vaccines and remove false claims about vaccines.

Tangent:

In prepared remarks sent to Congress in 2017, Facebook said the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company linked to the Kremlin, had posted approximately 80,000 pieces of divisive content that was shown to about 29 million people over a two-year period. According to New York Times reporting, Russian agents “intending to sow discord among American citizens disseminated inflammatory posts” that reached a total of 126 million users on Facebook.

Further Reading:

Connecting People With Credible Climate Change Information (FB) 

Mark Zuckerberg says social networks should not be fact-checking political speech (CNBC)

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