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Facebook Launches Science Centre to Combat Fake Climate News

David Paul

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Facebook Science centre

The social media giant hopes to elevate credible news sources to combat misinformation ahead of the US election in November.

Facebook has announced the creation of a climate science information centre to help connect its users to factual and up-to-date climate information.

In a statement, the firm said it intends to model the centre on its current Covid-19 Information Centre which it says has so far connected two billion people to information from health authorities.

The tool will be released in the UK, France, Germany, and the US, with the intention of a future roll-out to other countries.

Facebook said in a statement: “The Climate Science Information Centre is a dedicated space on Facebook with factual resources from the world’s leading climate organisations and actionable steps people can take in their everyday lives to combat climate change.

“The Centre will feature facts, figures and data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and their global network of climate science partners, including the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), The Met Office and others.

“We will also include posts from relevant sources to highlight climate science news.”

Facebook has faced criticism in the past for allowing misinformation to spread on its platform through a policy that exempts opinion articles from its external fact-checking system.

However, the firm says it is committed to tackling the spread of incorrect information, stating that it partners with “more than 70 independent fact-checking organisations globally, covering more than 60 languages”.

Facebook says that the fact-checkers “can, and do, rate climate science content”.

They commented: “As with all types of claims debunked by our fact-checkers, we reduce the distribution of these posts in News Feed and apply a warning label on top of these posts both on Facebook and Instagram so people understand that the content has been rated false.”

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Facebook’s global policy chief Nick Clegg said the company would continue exempting false claims about climate change posted by politicians ahead of the US presidential election in November, although these are often among the most popular content on the platform.

He told reporters: “No social media company has ever tried to do so for the simple reason that political speeches always are characterised by exaggerations, selected uses of statistics, and exaggerated claims of virtues from one candidate and vices of others.”

The firm had also announced, alongside Google, that it intends to become 100% carbon neutral by the end of 2020 as well as committing to reaching net-zero emissions for its value chains by 2030.

However, some scientists have said large businesses like Facebook are still not doing enough to combat climate change and that the company has allowed misinformation and conspiracy theories to flourish on its platform.

Michael E. Mann, director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center, told USA Today: “The consequences are that the public is far less informed about climate change than they need to be.

“It is very convenient for polluting interests who don’t want to see climate policies move forward.”

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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