Groups seek answers ahead of congressional hearing on disinformation
Ahead of the March 25 Energy and Commerce congressional hearing on disinformation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and 12 other groups sent a letter to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the spread of climate change disinformation on Facebook.
While Facebook admits climate disinformation on its platform is a problem, it continues to fail to stop the spread of disinformation, most recently illustrated by the rampant disinformation surrounding the Texas outages in February.
Friends of the Earth disinformation spokesperson Michael Khoo issued the following statement:
Facebook talks a lot about climate disinformation, but has shown little real action. We gave Facebook the lists of climate deniers but they didn’t use that to stop those people from turning the Texas power failure into a disinformation debacle. Research showed that traditional media did a strong job in fighting climate disinformation, but on social media it ran rampant. Legislators now blame renewable energy for the failures of fossil fuels, and that lie is owned by Facebook. If Facebook had taken the simple and easy steps our coalition recommended, climate denial would have been reined in.
We have proactively warned Facebook not to let the upcoming Earth Day turn into yet another disinformation bacchanal for the oil and gas industry.
The letter co-signed by 14 groups reads:
Climate change disinformation is spreading rapidly across Facebook’s social media platform, threatening the ability of citizens and policymakers to fight the climate crisis. To explain how Facebook will stop climate change disinformation in the future, we would like your answers to the following questions:
- Facebook recently touted the creation of a Climate Science Information Center to expose its users to accurate information about climate change. Since the creation of the center, have you documented a reduction of climate misinformation on Facebook? Will Facebook commit to a specific reduction target for climate disinformation?
- As recently as February, misinformation about wind turbines causing the power outages in Texas spread seemingly unchecked on Facebook. Will you commit to monitoring climate change disinformation and releasing regular and transparent reports to the public?
- Research has shown that Facebook advertising has been used by organizations to pay to spread and target climate change disinformation. That research has also recently noted cases where Facebook has failed to classify ads containing climate disinformation as political or issue ads during and after its recent political ad ban. Will Facebook commit to eliminating all climate change disinformation spread through Facebook advertising?
- Facebook announced sweeping changes to how it handles vaccine misinformation recently, taking a much more aggressive stance. Will Facebook adopt a similar policy to what it created to eliminate COVID misinformation, based on the framework of the imminent and inevitable harm of climate change?
- It is not clear what counts as a strike when it comes to climate disinformation. Will Facebook adopt a two-strike rule for repeat offenders of climate disinformation, removing viral functionalities for violations until peer-reviewed proof is given to support any further organic or ad content posts?
- The research company Zignal documented a 73% drop in election-related misinformation as a result of deplatforming Trump and some QAnon accounts. What percent reduction of election-related misinformation did Facebook document?
- Friends of the Earth
- Center for Biological Diversity
- Defenders of Wildlife
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Environmental Working Group
- Global Witness
- Sierra Club
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- Waterkeeper Alliance