Amid the massive backlash toward Facebook over its complacency in the spread of harmful misinformation and conspiracy theories, the social media company has launched a resource to help its users better understand the climate crisis as it unfolds in real time. The social media company launched a new tool this week called the Climate Change Information Center, and Facebook users are already seeing it pop up on their news feeds around the globe. Scientists argue, however, that the company is late to act on the already rampant presence of misinformation and climate change deniability present on its platform.
“Climate change is real,” said Facebook in a blog post announcing the new feature, along with the promise to reduce its corporate carbon emissions entirely by the end of the year. “The science is unambiguous and the need to act grows more urgent by the day. As a global company that connects more than 3 billion people across our apps every month, we understand the responsibility Facebook has and we want to make a real difference,” the company wrote.
The new Climate Science Information Center replicates the model that Facebook users saw earlier this year that offered a resource with factual information about COVID-19. News about the virus became a hotbed for misinformation earlier this year, and since then the information center has effectively helped to combat some of the falsehoods that quickly began circulating on Facebook back in March. The center features information about climate change from reputable organizations and scientists and is available by clicking on the climate information button that shows up on users’ news feeds. The center also encourages users to share content related to sustainability and saving the planet from the climate crisis.
Facebook has already launched the information center in four countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, with plans to expand the feature to more countries in the near future. Users can easily access facts and figures about what climate change is and how it impacts their local area according to scientific data provided by reputable sources. However, it might be too late to combat the years of misinformation that has already freely circulated the platform up until now.
A legion of scientific organizations issued a recent statement calling on Facebook to further commit to its promise to stop the spread of climate disinformation. “We applaud Facebook for taking concrete steps to reduce its carbon footprint as a company by setting goals that are in line with what climate science demands,” the demand writes. “However, Facebook admits climate disinformation on its platform is a rampant problem, but is only taking half measures to stop it. This new policy is a small step forward but does not address the larger climate disinformation crisis hiding in plain sight. Climate deniers are an easy group to define — we gave Facebook the list. As we’ve seen with the fires in Facebook’s backyard, active hurricane season, and extreme weather, the dangers of climate change are urgent, real, and deadly. Just as Facebook has taken responsibility for its own carbon emissions, it must take responsibility to stop climate deniers from spreading disinformation on its platform.”