Sep 15, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Facebook vows tougher climate change efforts but remains under fire over misinformation

Facebook is vowing new steps to provide users with accurate climate change information and cut emissions, but activists say it's doing too little to confront the spread of false claims on its platform.

Driving the news: The social media giant on Tuesday announced launch of the "Climate Science Information Center."

  • It's a "dedicated space" on the platform with resources from organizations like the UN's climate science branch, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among others.
  • It will also provide posts from "relevant sources to highlight climate science news," Facebook said of the hub launching initially in the U.S., France, Germany and the U.K., with other places to follow.

Why it matters: Facebook has come under fire from environmentalists and politicians, including the high-profile Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for allowing inaccurate information to circulate.

What they're saying: Facebook's announcement states that it's "committed to tackling" climate misinformation.

  • It noted that fact-checkers rate climate science content and apply warning labels about false info, and reduce the distribution of that content in its news feed.
  • Nick Clegg, Facebook's VP of global affairs, defended Facebook's practices that allow posts to remain on the site in comments to several outlets.
  • For instance, via Bloomberg, he said that it's a "mistaken view that the only and sustainable solution to bad information is removal."

The other side: Several environmental groups, in a joint statement, accused Facebook of only taking "half measures" on the topic.

  • "This new policy is a small step forward but does not address the larger climate disinformation crisis hiding in plain sight," said Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and several others.

What's next: Facebook also announced a new goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030 from its whole "value chain" — including "suppliers and other factors such as employee commuting and business travel."

  • The company said its direct operations will achieve net-zero emissions and be 100% "supported" by renewables as of this year.

Go deeper: Facebook unveils new climate initiative, but won't change policy on misinformation (NBC News)

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