Facebook Wants to Fight Climate Change But Isn’t Doing Anything More to Stop the Spread of Misinformation

In case you didn’t notice, the world’s on fire. Right now the biggest wildfire in Californian history is raging not that long after Australia had one of its worst seasons ever. And that’s got people thinking about why things are this bad. Specifically, climate change and what can be done to fight it. Enter Facebook, stage left.

On Tuesday, the company seized the opportunity to outline efforts to battle climate change in a blogpost.

“As a global company that connects more than 3 billion people across our apps every month, we understand the responsibility Facebook has and we want to make a real difference,” the statement reads.

“We are taking important steps to reduce our emissions and arm our global community with science-based information to make informed decisions and tools to take action.”

What Facebook says it’s doing to fight climate change

The company’s plan has three prongs.

Firstly, Facebook has launched a Climate Science Information Centre. It’s a dashboard with information from scientific organisations about the climate, news stories about climate change and steps people can take to fight it.

Supplied: Facebook

This replicates the company’s COVID-19 information centre, which has does the same thing for the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s only launched in the US, UK, France and Germany to start with, but anyone can access and read the information — which is largely internationally relevant, anyway.

Secondly, Facebook has committed to a net zero emission goals for its value chain. The announcement also notes the company’s progress so far.

“Beyond our goal of reducing our operational greenhouse gas emissions by 75% this year, we will achieve net zero emissions for our operations,” the post said.

What about climate misinformation?

And thirdly, the company has committed to “tackling climate misinformation”. And here’s where it gets interesting.

As the announcement reiterates, the company has dozens of independent fact checking partners. These are organisations that employ staff who can review claims made on the platform and, if found to be containing false information, can limit its reach (but not remove it).

But not everything can be fact checked — and that’s how climate change denialism can continue to exist on Facebook. For example, it’s been reported Facebook overturned a partner’s decision to label a post that argued increased carbon emissions are good for the planet as “false” because opinion pieces are exempt from fact-checking. So it’s hard to believe that fact checkers in their current form are the solution to this problem.

And even during Australia’s bushfires earlier this year, Facebook pages posting climate misinformation seem to be unaffected and, if anything, were prospering.

So, while Facebook hopes that “these efforts demonstrate that Facebook is committed to playing its part and helping to inspire real action in our community”, the platform’s own users remain one of their biggest roadblocks to a greener future.