Facebook is criticized for misinformation about climate


Facebook is under fire from environmentalists for its lies about climate. Although the giant has announced new climate initiatives, the problem remains unchecked. Facebook says a “Climate Science Center” is developed that includes more facts, videos, and quizzes. Furthermore, the company also sponsors groups “working to combat climate misinformation” with $1 million.

Facebook’s efforts are still unacceptable because it doesn’t stop misinformation. Users still believe false information that can spread like wildfire exists even though the “science center” is set up. The social network giant still receives advertising money from oil and gas companies.

Co-chair of the climate disinformation coalition at the nonprofit Friends of the Earth (FOE), Michael Khoo said: “Facebook knows the super-spreaders of climate disinformation and should put an end to their repetitive lies. Facebook and other tech platforms must take far stronger action to limit the super-spreaders, and not put the burden on ordinary users.”

In February last year, misinformation about climate solutions like renewables that appeared during a deadly blackout and sudden cold in Texas emerged. The information on social media is false. They said that because of a power failure, the wind turbines froze. However, the cause of outages is extreme cold, which affects all energy sources including renewables, and frozen natural gas infrastructure.

Friends of the Earth analyzed 10 “highest-performing” Facebook posts in a report published today. Their main content is to blame wind turbines for blackouts. Posts with the authenticity verification label have less than 1% engagement with all likes, comments, and shares. They are labeled “reviewed by the platform’s third-party fact-checkers” by Facebook. According to the FOE, misinformation can spread not only within but also outside, the mainstream media and politics if they are not checked.

In an email to The Verge, Facebook stated: “Many of the examples in the report cited as not having labels are simply positions that the [FOE] disagrees with.” The handling of misinformation after a winter storm is defended by the company.

The FOE analyzed several articles that included statements by Tucker Carlson from Fox News such as “Green energy inevitably means blackouts,” and “global warming is no longer a pressing concern in Houston. We’ve solved that problem. The bad news is they don’t have electricity. The windmills frozen compared to the power grid failed.” All of those statements are untrue.

The top 10 most viewed posts sharing a viral image of a drone defrosting a wind turbine were considered by Friends of Earth. This image is not related to the power outage and it was taken 10 years ago. The FOE reported that Facebook’s fact-checking label appeared in 90% of those posts.

The real world can have dire consequences for online renewable energy misinformation. In the wake of the catastrophes, lawmakers in Texas have criticized wind power and stopped it, but they introduced new fees on renewables and boosted natural gas.

In a statement today, program manager at climate and energy think tank InfluenceMap, Faye Holder said: “The company often talks about its commitment to tackling climate change, but it continues to allow its platform to be used by the fossil fuel sector to undermine science-based climate action.” The company is having problems with the money from oil and gas advertising.

In a report published last month, InfluenceMap said Facebook received nearly $9.6 million for ads on its app from 25 companies from the oil and gas sector last year. Those ads have more than 431 million views. In an email statement, Facebook informed that ads rated as false or misleading by their independent fact-checkers are rejectable.