Facebook Restricts Scientists as Climate Change Denial Spreads on Facebook
By: Kevin Lee
Facebook has recently been restricting scientists and allowing climate change denial groups to promote climate denial posts on Facebook to millions of viewers. Facebook’s fact-checks overrule scientists trying to clear up the misconception.
Groups on social media and on Facebook promote climate change denial on their respective platforms, trying to combat scientists with concrete evidence. These groups falsely claim that climate change is good, making claims such as statements that climate change is good for the oceans, promoted by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Other groups promote coal-burning facilities and claim that carbon dioxide could lower the pH in the oceans where it has become too acidic.
Facebook weakened a firewall to fact-check such false claims and has overruled a fact-check from scientists for Facebook. Facebook claims that climate denial group posts are opinion and is concerned scientists as posts could be promoted easily this way.
Facebook also intervened in a fact-check for a post but claimed that it was an opinion from the climate denial group that posted it. Soon after, Facebook labeled it as false but removed this label because the group had a “conservative partner” that intervened so Facebook had to remove the “false” label. Andy Stone, spokesperson of Facebook explains the reasons why they removed the “false” label. “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.”
Scientists are restricted by Facebook, once being classified as political organizations, they are now required to register with a legal name, social security number and information from a passport or driver license making them prone to harassment by critics, especially women. Katharine Hayhoe, a respected climate change scientist says, “These are the facts. These videos have been peer-reviewed and I still can’t boost them on Facebook.”
On Wednesday, environmental and political groups wrote a letter to Facebook to crack down on climate change denial. They wanted to close the opinion post circle to stop climate denial posts from being spread across Facebook.