Facebook

Facebook says it has two different standards for climate fact-checking

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Facebook mentions that its third-party fact-checking partners “do review and rate climate misinformation. And there has never been a prohibition against them doing so”. The social media company said this in a response to the condemnation from Democratic senators. The letter says Facebook will carry on with its policy of excepting “clear opinion content” from fact-checking. The senators are not satisfied.

Facebook

In a response shared with The Verge, the tech monster mentioned that it does not give thought to all climate change content “opinion”. However, opinion articles concerning climate change do not experience fact-checking, a policy Facebook says it began as far back as 2016.

The Senators’ comment about Facebook in a statement.

The four senators Elizabeth Warren, Tom Carper, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Brian Schatz mentioned something in a statement. They said:

“We asked Facebook leadership to close the loopholes that let climate disinformation spread on their platforms”. ” Their response: we should trust them to make and follow their own rules and procedures, even if it results in the distortion of facts and the mass dissemination of falsehoods”.

“The future of our planet is at stake, and there should be no company too big, too powerful, and too opaque to be held accountable for its role in the climate crisis. Facebook is no exception”.

Facebook as well as been blamed for enabling climate denial to fester on its platform. It withdrew a “false” rating from an op-ed published by the Washington Examiner that cast doubt on the perfection of climate change models last August. At first, the independent fact-checker of the social media company flagged the article as “highly misleading”.

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The reason is that it contained incorrect information and cherry-picked data. However, a non-profit group known as CO2 Coalition objected to the rating. This non-profit group was created by William Happer, the former advisor of Trump

Reports from E&E News concerning Facebook

Following the reports from E&E News, the company created a “de facto loophole” for opinion articles to abscond fact-checking. However, the company mentioned that this was the policy the whole time.

As a result of the conflict, the senators sent a letter to the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg on the 15th of July. They were not in support with the so-called loophole and they wanted Facebook to explain how the decision to change the rating was made.

The senators wrote:

“The climate crisis and environmental degradation are not matters of opinion”.

Scott Johnson to The New York Times

A science editor at one of Facebook’s third-party fact-checker known as ‘Science Feedback’s said to The New York Time last month:

“Placing statements that are verifiably false in an opinion section shouldn’t grant immunity from fact-checking”.

Facebook response to the senators

The social media company has made it known to its independent fact-checkers that opinion content is not subject to fact-checking, it said in response to the senators.

It further added:

“However, when someone presents content based on underlying false information as opinion – even in the form of an op-ed or editorial. It is still eligible for fact-checking.

In the letter the senators wrote, they asked if the rumors around climate change are being handled separately than fake COVID-19 posts. And if yes, for what purpose.

Andy Stone’s Comment

Facebook’s policy communications director, Andy Stone mentioned something to The New York Times last month.

Andy said:

“Climate change misinformation isn’t a priority for Facebook. Instead, the company is most concerned with more immediate threats like hate speech or coronavirus disinformation”.

World Health Organization

According to the World Health Organization, Climate change is supposed to give rise to an additional 250,000 deaths each year. Between the years 2030 and 2050 due to malaria, heat stress, diarrhea, and malnutrition.

The Democratic senators are not the only ones bothered about the damage that rumors about the climate change could do.

According to a current survey by the think tank Data for Progress:

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Several polled voters think the company should tag opinion articles with misinformation concerning climate change as false.