Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A group calling themselves climate power have demanded Facebook take a more aggressive stance against people who promote what they claim are climate lies. The signatories to their open letter include failed radical green Democrat candidate Tom Steyer, and former Clinton administration chief of staff John Podesta.
FACEBOOK: ACT URGENTLY TO TAKE ON THE THREAT OF CLIMATE DENIERS
A follow-up open letter to Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Facebook’s Oversight Board
July 7, 2020
To: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Facebook Oversight Board
Cc: Mark Zuckerberg, Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, Evelyn Aswad, Endy Bayuni, Catalina Botero-Marino, Katherine Chen, Nighat Dad, Jamal Greene, Pamela Karlan, Tawakkol Karman, Maina Kiai, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Ronaldo Lemos, Michael McConnell, Julie Owono, Emi Palmor, Alan Rusbridger, András Sajó, Nicolas Suzor, Nick Clegg
We are disappointed to have received a response from the Oversight Board’s head of communications to our July 1, 2020 letter instead of yourself or another Oversight Board co-chair. The Facebook-created loophole allows climate deniers to circumvent independent fact-checkers to publish lies and misinformation.
The Facebook Oversight Board was first proposed more than two years ago by Mark Zuckerberg himself. It’s been 19 months since Mr. Zuckerberg formally announced the Board’s creation and almost 10 months since Facebook’s senior-most leaders touted the launch of the Oversight Board to members of the media worldwide. Your participation as a co-chair was announced in early May.
Facebook leaders have found time in the intervening months to sit with members of the press to herald the creation of an action-oriented Oversight Board. Meanwhile, Facebook is allowing misinformation to spread, and they are hiding behind the promise of an “Oversight Board” that appears to be in name only. The Board does not hear cases and recently said it is not yet operational.
As environmental leaders, we feel an urgent duty to take on the threat of climate deniers and climate change. We expect Facebook to work with the same urgency.
Climate denial and misinformation are deadly. By preventing any meaningful form of oversight and allowing these lies to go unchecked, Facebook is jeopardizing the health and well-being of people around the globe with the most vulnerable communities most at risk.
If the Board exists to “make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech in a community that reflects the social norms and values of people all around the world,” as Mr. Zuckerberg stated, we need your oversight now more than ever. Hate speech, climate denial, and health threats have tarnished the integrity of Facebook. If the company fails to enact any tangible oversight, we struggle to see the value of this Board as anything but a public relations stunt.
Mr. Zuckerberg has refused to recognize that he must get the facts right on climate and refused to acknowledge that climate denial on his platform is as dangerous a threat to future generations as any.
As a global climate leader, you know that climate change is not opinion. It is fact. And it is actively killing humans across the globe. We see you as our ally in the fight to protect our planet for future generations, and we ask you to lead the charge to fix the climate loophole.
We urge you to hold the first meeting of the full Oversight Committee in the next two weeks to address Facebook allowing the spread of misinformation and overturning decisions made by scientists and fact-checkers.
Until Facebook takes a stand, climate deniers will continue to exploit your platform to sow discord and put the world’s health and security at dire risk.
- Stacey Abrams, Founder of Fair Fight and the Southern Economic Advancement Project
- LaTricea D. Adams, Founder CEO & President, Black Millennials 4 Flint
- Ken Berlin, CEO, Climate Reality Action Fund
- Carol Browner, League of Conservation Voters Board Chair and Former EPA Administrator
- Dominique Browning, Senior Director and Co-founder, Moms Clean Air Force
- Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
- Gerald Butts, President, New Climate and former Principal Secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
- Alex Cornell du Houx, Co-Founder and President, Elected Officials to Protect America
- Abbie Dillen, Earthjustice President
- Ken Kimmell, Union of Concerned Scientists President
- Lori Lodes, Climate Power 2020 Executive Director
- Gina McCarthy, President and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund and former EPA Administrator
- Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, 350.org North America Director
- Collin O’Mara, National Wildlife Federation President
- Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth U.S. President
- John Podesta, Founder of the Center for American Progress
- Tom Steyer, Climate activist and Founder of NextGen America
- Robert Wendelgass, Clean Water Action President and CEO
- Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society
Katharine Hayhoe has also attacked Facebook, though she is not a signatory on the climate power letter or their original demand.
Katharine appears unhappy that an apparent shift in policy is allowing people who disagree with her to promote their views on Facebook, while at the same time it is more difficult for Katharine to promote her videos.
Denial expands on Facebook as scientists face restrictions
Scott Waldman, E&E News reporterPublished: Monday, July 6, 2020
A climate scientist says Facebook is restricting her ability to share research and fact-check posts containing climate misinformation.
Those constraints are occuring as groups that reject climate science increasingly use the platform to promote misleading theories about global warming.
E&E News previously reported that Facebook intervened to reverse a fact-check that prevented a group — which claims that human-caused carbon dioxide is beneficial — from advertising on the site. By labeling the false claim as “opinion,” Facebook permitted the group, named the CO2 Coalition, to resume promoting misinformation (Climatewire, June 23).
In response, a group of scientists with Climate Feedback — a part of Facebook’s approved fact-checking network — evaluated the post and found that it relied on “cherry-picked” evidence and was misleading. It was marked as “false.”
But weeks later that label was quietly removed. Officials with the CO2 Coalition said they were helped by a “conservative contact” at Facebook whose intervention resulted in getting the decision reversed.
Facebook’s explanation for its fact-check of the CO2 Coalition is disputed by groups on both sides.
“Opinion is separate and apart; there is an opinion rating but it is separate and apart from false or true, or partly false or partly true,” Stone said.
Hayhoe has declined to comply with Facebook’s requirements for promoting her posts. She says the platform created inappropriate burdens for scientists who want to share objective information about climate change.
“These are the facts,” she said. “These videos have been peer-reviewed, and I still can’t boost them on Facebook.”
Read more: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1063511857
I applaud Facebook apparently recognising that their fact checking system has been abused, and for them making an effort to level the playing field.
But I am concerned about Hayhoe’s claim that she is finding it difficult to promote her videos, and hope she and Facebook reach a speedy resolution.
Everyone should be treated fairly.