Facebook is failing to direct users to reliable climate information from posts that promote climate change denial, new research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has found.
In May 2021, Facebook announced that it would start attaching “information labels” to posts about climate change, in which users are directed to the platform’s “Climate Science Information Center”.
But in an analysis of the most popular Facebook posts sharing over 184 articles from the “Toxic Ten”, a list of ten publishers that account for up to 69% of Facebook interactions with climate denial, the Center found that just half of posts had the label attached.
One of the posts that wasn’t labelled contained a Breitbart article that read: “And if Global Warming is real (it’s not), why are the same leftists who supposedly believe in Global Warming (which is a hoax), buying property in the California coasts?”
In another post, which shared an article from Newsmax, the text read: “Fox News' owner Rupert Murdoch has long been one of the media's last hold-outs against pushing climate change hysteria, until now.” It received 184,380 interactions.
Among many of the posts that carried no information label had used popular climate change denial language, including “alarmist climate propaganda”, “climate hysteria” and “Global Warming Alarmism.”
“Facebook claims to be a green company,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the CCDH. “That they’re pitching in and doing their utmost - saying they can only deal with half of climate misinformation on their platform is just woefully poor. We need to see much more comprehensive action if we are going to abate the climate crisis. 50% is a failing grade. It’s an F. Someone with the resources of Facebook should be aiming for an A.”
Facebook appeared to attach labels to some publishers more frequently than others. News Max and the Media Research Center, which has a history of accepting funding from fossil fuel companies, had fewer labels compared with RT.com, which had all posts featuring climate denial articles labelled.
A spokesperson for Meta, the company that owns Facebook, said: “We combat climate change misinformation by connecting people to reliable information in many languages from leading organisations through our Climate Science Center and working with a global network of independent fact checkers to review and rate content.
“When they rate this content as false, we add a warning label and reduce its distribution so fewer people see it. During the time frame of this report, we hadn’t completely rolled out our labelling program, which very likely impacted the results.”
Several of the posts that the CCDH flagged had been posted after September 2021 – when Facebook announced it would be introducing new efforts to combat climate crisis misinformation on its platform and would expand its climate science centre to provide more reliable information.