Amid the growing conversations around the effects of climate change and the urgent need to combat it, there are still people who refuse to take this seriously and even go as far as to call it a ‘myth’. To increase awareness about climate change and combat misinformation, Facebook has decided to launch a one-of-a-kind Climate Change Information Centre. Ahead of the annual Climate Week Summit in New York City, the company announced the launch of this Climate Change Information Centre. It is a special Facebook page that will offer information and resources on the urgent issue of climate change.
According to the United Nations, climate change is a very important issue of our time. The impacts of climate change include shifting weather patterns, rising sea levels, etc. If we don’t take any action today, dealing with this in the future will be more costly and difficult. In light of this, Facebook’s Climate Change Information Centre might be helpful in initiating action and discussions among its users.
The Climate Change Information Centre
The Climate Change information centre will give the users information and facts from the world’s leading climate organizations. These include the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and others. It will also provide its users with steps they can take to combat climate change. The company aims to connect people with science-based information.
The climate change information centre is modelled after Facebook’s COVID-19 Information Centre, which was launched earlier this year to give people correct information about COVID-19. According to the company, more than 2 billion people were directed to the info centre, with 600 million users clicking through to know more. The climate change information centre will be first launched in the US, UK, Germany, and France. Very soon, it will be made available in other countries.
Facebook has also announced that it aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions for its global operations in 2020 and net-zero carbon emissions for its entire value chain, including suppliers and employee commuting and business travel by 2030. It is also planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% in its secondary supply chain. The company did not disclose how much money it plans to invest, to support this initiative.
Facebook has already started working towards this goal. The data centre of Facebook in Odense, Denmark is fully supported by wind energy. In the data centre in Clonee, Ireland, the company added various native plants to support bee populations in the area and initiated a program to cultivate half a million beehives.
“We are taking important steps to reduce our emissions and arm our global community with science-based information to make informed decisions and tools to take action, and we hope they demonstrate that Facebook is committed to playing its part and helping to inspire real action in our community,” said Facebook in a statement.
Tackling Misinformation and Fake News
Facebook has been diligent about removing posts that spread misinformation about the pandemic. It removed 7 million posts and labelled 98 million more for spreading misinformation related to the pandemic. However, the company has been accused of not dealing with climate change propaganda and pseudoscience seriously.
An article written in The New York Times in July pointed to how people who deny the phenomena of climate change use the editorial label and escape Facebook’s policies for climate change disinformation. By taking advantage of facebook’s controversial stance on giving space for different opinions, in September of 2019, a group that goes by the name of CO2 Coalition managed to escape fact-checking, which would have labelled the post as misinformation. By calling the posts that contained misinformation on climate change an editorial, the group was able to avoid the types of labels that would have redirected a user to factual information from recognized scientific organizations.
The Chief Product Officer at Facebook, Chris Cox says that even if a post is labelled as an opinion piece, it is still subject to fact-checking. He said that they keep an eye on stuff that goes viral. He also clarified that nowhere in their policy do they say that opinion pieces are exempted.