Climate Change Denial Still Rife On Facebook, Say Researchers


Facebook is only flagging around half the posts from the major climate change deniers on its platform, a new report warns.

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Last year, the company pledged to attach ‘informational labels’ to misleading posts about climate change in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Nigeria, South Africa and the US. These labels link to a Climate Science Information Center, with factual information from leading climate organizations and resources to take action against climate change.

However, a new report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has found that around half the content from what it calls the ‘toxic ten’ – the digital publishers whose articles clock up nearly 70 per cent of Facebook interactions with climate denial material – is still flying under the radar.

Posts that carried no information label featured articles including a Breitbart article claiming global Warming is a hoax; a Washington Times article claiming that ‘Covid-19 and climate change are being used to steal our liberties’; and a Breitbart article branding a leading climate scientist a ‘climate alarmist’.

“By failing to do even the bare minimum to address the spread of climate denial information, Meta is exacerbating the climate crisis,” says CCDH chief executive Imran Ahmed.

“Meta keeps claiming it cares about climate change but they have failed to stop the spread of misinformation about climate change on their platform; they have failed even to consistently apply measures that they themselves admit are of limited efficacy, such as labelling.”

The CCDH found that Facebook’s response to the misleading posts was uneven. While all those from Russian state media site RT were flagged, the figure was just six in ten from Newsmax and the Media Research Center, funded by fossil fuel companies.

The 93 posts that weren’t given labels received around 542,000 likes, comments and shares from Facebook users.

The report follows hard on the heels of claims from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen that the company misled investors about its efforts to counter both Covod and climate misinformation.

Campaigners are calling for legislative action.

“Facebook has consistently shown they can’t be trusted. Facebook needs to open the books and lawmakers must step in to require full transparency from them and other social media platforms,” says Michael Khoo, co-chair of the Climate Disinformation Coalition at Friends of the Earth.

“America and the world need full data transparency of the ecosystem of disinformation, from climate to issues like race, gender or public health.”

Facebook has been approached for a response.



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