Facebook is Profiting from Climate Denial
Facebook claims to care about climate change. However, a world-first 40-page report by Stop Funding Heat found that Facebook is systematically failing to tackle climate denial on its platform.
Academic studies show that this kind of content sways public opinion and delays crucial policy-making. Ahead of COP26, the most crucial international meeting on climate change for over half a decade, Facebook must do more. Our demands to Facebook are simple:
- Stop receiving money to directly advertise climate misinformation.
- Add climate change to its "false news" policies, particularly its Community and Advertising Standards.
- Close the loopholes that allow climate denial and other misinformation to spread to millions.
- Share, openly and publicly, information about the extent of climate misinformation on your platform.
Agree? Sign the petition and take action now. Or read below for more information.
Facebook Talks The Talk, But Does Not Walk The Walk
Mark Zuckerberg is on record admitting that sensationalist content and misinformation on Facebook is good business. For years Facebook has claimed it is doing all it can to fight this inconvenient truth, on a multitude of issues including hate speech, public health (coming to light in particular during the global pandemic), election information and - of course - climate change denial.
However, Stop Funding Heat's report found otherwise. For example:
- Facebook does not mention climate change once in its "false news" policies. This means that, technically, anyone can place climate misinformation on the platform without consequence.
- Facebook is directly being paid to spread climate denial on its advertising platform. There are no explicit policies in place to stop this, either.
- An overwhelming number of empirical studies and journalistic investigations have found that Facebook systematically fails to implement its existing misinformation policies.
- When presented with grey areas, Facebook errs on the side of climate denial. Two high profile fact-checking cases have exposed Facebook's weak position on climate denial. Meanwhile, politicians remain exempt from fact-checks, meaning some of the highest reaching accounts can freely spread climate misinformation.
- Facebook's highly publicised Climate Science Information Center is an inadequate and under-resourced solution; not a drop in the ocean compared to the likely amount of climate misinformation on the platform.
- This is just scratching the surface. Facebook does not share enough information on climate misinformation for anyone to really know how bad it is.
The Solutions Are Simple, But Facebook is Dragging its Heels
We are asking Facebook to stop telling us how much they care about climate misinformation, and starting showing us, with the following actions:
- Stop taking advertising dollars for climate denial content: Remove all climate misinformation on your advertising platform, and demonstrate that all climate change related advertising is genuinely checked for facts, including by humans, not just AI
- Update your policies: Add climate change misinformation to your Community and Advertising Standards.
- Open Up: Show the resource and effort you are putting into preventing runaway climate denial on your platform. Share your internal research on how climate misinformation spreads on Facebook and the role of your algorithm in doing so. Begin reporting regularly on the reach, engagement and fact-checking impact of climate denial content, like you already do with Community Standards reporting. Finally, open your API to selected researchers and journalists so we can all tackle this collective issue on a level playing field.
- Close your fact-checking loopholes: Re-label historic climate fact-checks that were subsequently removed; revise your policy on politicians being exempt from climate fact-checks; and take action against accounts that repeatedly publish climate denial.