Facebook Starts Cracking Down on Climate Change Misinformation

Critics have been talking about the spread of misinformation on social media, with a particular emphasis placed on Facebook, for quite some time now. It is important to note that it was only during the ongoing pandemic that this problem started to become apparent because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up causing people to believe that the virus wasn’t real or to assume that the vaccines for the illness were either ineffective or perhaps even dangerous.

While this problem has started to become apparent to pretty much everybody out there, it’s not just Covid that tends to be discussed non-factually on the social media platform that is Facebook. Everything from flat earth conspiracy theories to a variety of others thrive on the platform as well, and perhaps the most damaging of these has to do with climate change denial. This essentially involves people suggesting that climate change is not actually happening, giving a wide range of increasingly outlandish reasons for why this is true according to them.

Most experts would agree that climate change is the single biggest long term threat being faced by the planet that we all live on, so it is heartening to know that Facebook will start cracking down on misinformation related to it. This was brought about by a letter sent to Facebook by a group of US senators lead by Elizabeth warren. In this letter, the senators singled out an article that had been posted on Facebook in 2019 by the Washington Examiner which disparaged the climate change models most scientists used to try and measure how much damage was being done as well as how much time we might have before this damage ended up becoming irreversible.

Facebook initially was hesitant to remove the article. While they gave it a “false” label, this label was subsequently removed with the reasoning behind this being that it was marked as an op-ed. Facebook claims that op-eds can’t be removed or labeled due to this ostensibly being some kind of a violation of free speech and the like. More pressure was applied by international organizations, and Facebook’s attempts to make climate change denial seem like a non-issue due to it being a long term issue that did not meet Facebook’s criteria which mostly focused on short term issues like elections started to seem rather disingenuous.

Starting last year, the social media platform started to take a closer look at climate change denial on the platform. Experts were brought in, and an information center was developed. This information center contains details about climate change that users can look through, but while this is a step in the right direction it is by no means a complete fix for the issue. Facebook is notorious for applying band-aid solutions to large problems, and if this is just another example of this then the criticism is just going to increase as time goes by.

Still, some would argue that Facebook is at least acknowledging the problem which indicates that better fixes might come around at some point. We can just hope that these serious changes come sooner rather than later otherwise they won’t be able to do much good.

Read next: Facebook Introduces A New Prompt That Encourages Its Userbase To Get Themselves Vaccinated Against COVID-19

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