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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Facebook is expanding the geographic reach of its recently launched online portal to counter misinformation about climate change, and will take new steps to steer users of the platform toward those resources.

Why it matters: Social media platforms have immense reach, and they've come under fire from activists and some lawmakers globally for doing too little to thwart the spread of inaccurate content.

Driving the news: Facebook Thursday morning unveiled several changes to the Climate Science Information Center it first launched in September. The platform steers users to the site when they search for climate-related terms. Changes and additions include...

  • Making it available to Facebook users in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Spain, South Africa, and Taiwan. It initially launched in the U.S., U.K., Germany and France.
  • Where it's not available, Facebook is directing users to the UN Environment Programme.
  • The site has added a section aimed at debunking specific myths about climate change crafted in consultation with experts from Yale, George Mason and the University of Cambridge.
  • Facebook is beginning a program in the U.K., which it plans to expand, that starts adding labels to some user posts on climate that steer them to the Center.

What they're saying: “We want to expose people to information that helps them interpret and react to common myths around climate change they may encounter,” Edward Palmieri, Facebook’s sustainability director, tells Axios.

  • John Cook, a George Mason University expert in climate communication working with Facebook, said research shows that simply saying information is wrong is not enough.
  • “You also have to explain why or how it is wrong. That is important from a psychological point of view,” Cook said of the new “myth-busting” section of the climate portal.

But, but, but: It's unclear how the new efforts will sit with climate activists who say the social media behemoth should go further by outright thwarting posts from organizations that deny human-driven climate change.

  • Facebook officials, for their part, note that they have a fact-checking initiative that runs in parallel to the online portal, and take steps to label and limit distribution of posts with misinformation without nixing them outright.

Our thought bubble: It's comparatively easy to put up an information center on a highly charged topic, notes Axios' chief technology correspondent Ina Fried. But the harder and more important work is preventing misinformation, something that Facebook has struggled to do on many issues.

Go deeper

Feb 17, 2021 - Technology

Facebook to restrict users from sharing news in Australia

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook on Wednesday said it would restrict publishers and people in Australia from sharing or viewing Australian and international news content in response to a new law requiring tech platforms to reimburse news publishers.

Why it matters: The move sets a precedent for how Facebook may handle other global efforts to force it to pay news publishers for their content.

Feb 17, 2021 - Economy & Business

Google strikes 11th hour deals with Australian publishers to avoid new law

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Google on Wednesday said that it finally struck a multiyear deal with News Corp, the largest owner of newspapers by circulation in Australia, to pay for its content.

Why it matters: The deal, along with several others reached between Google and Australian publishers in recent days, will likely allow the tech giant to avoid a sweeping new Australian law that would have forced it and rival Facebook to pay publishers on terms set by third-parties if they were unable to reach agreements themselves.

Updated 6 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Katie Ledecky in Tokyo. Photo: Ding Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images

🚨: Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars

🏊‍♀️: Katie Ledecky wins gold in women's 800m freestyle

🏊: Caeleb Dressel breaks world record in men's 100m butterfly, 3rd gold

🇬🇧: Britain wins gold in first-ever Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay

🎾: Novak Djokovic defeated in Olympic semi-finals

💻: Japan tests teleporting games and "remote cheering"

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

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