Report Reveals That Facebook Quietly Removed Fact-Check Labels on Viral Climate Change Denial Content

As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe earlier this year, Facebook went into action to tackle potentially dangerous misleading information on its platform. The company started to label misleading information, suppress misinformation, and even removed false theories related to the pandemic. Facebook redirects users to authentic sources including the CDC and WHO website. However, it appears that the company is not making enough effort to stop the spread of some types of misleading information raising concerns about the role of Facebook in such, and what exactly are the motivations of the company, for taking a more lazy approach in some specific situations.

Popular Information (PI) published a report stating that the company removed fact-check markers on viral climate change denial content. The report was published on Monday, and states that Facebook quietly removed fact-check markers despite Facebook’s fact-checking partners found the content to be ‘partly false.’ It appears that the markers were removed after intervention by Facebook management.

According to Popular Information, Michael Shellenberger is the author of the article which was published on The Daily Wire. 12 facts are written in the article to argue that concerns related to climate change are overblown. However, Facebook removed fact-check labels without explanation. If someone wants to share the article today, they will not see any warning or link to the fact-checking site. PI reported that the article has been shared more than 65,000 times on Facebook’s platform.

PI reported that it obtained Internal Facebook documents and found that fact-check of The Daily Wire’s article was specifically brought to the attention of the company’s top executives including Nick Clegg, Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs & Communications, VP of Global News Partnerships Campbell Brown, and Joel Kaplan, the company’s VP of Global Public Policy. The incident raises questions about Facebook’s integrity of the fact-checking process, and it seems that this incident ultimately lead to the removal of the fact-check marker.

The company’s own research shows that the fact-check label is an effective tool in combating the spread of misleading information across the platform. Additionally, the report also notes that the company was asked by the office of Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA) to reverse the fact-check marker.

Last month, reports emerged that the company was letting some climate misinformation posts remain on Facebook’s platform by prompting its staffers to render such content ineligible for fact-checking by deeming the content ‘opinion.’ Why Facebook does not combat other types of misinformation in a way it is combating misinformation about the virus?

Some theories suggest that Facebook benefits from such discussions across the platform. Recently, Bill McKibben of The New Yorker wrote that Facebook’s core business is to get maximum users to spend maximum time on its site, so the company can sell the attention of those people to marketers.

Read next: Mark Zuckerberg Says That the Idea That Facebook Has Some Sort Of a Secret Deal with Trump Is Pretty Ridiculous
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