In the middle of the hottest October in human history, a question appeared on an internal Facebook bulletin board. “Disinformation Policy – Denying Climate Change?”
The issue sparked discussion, including one employee who argued that allowing Facebook to post climate denial posts unverified on the platform makes sense because the science of a specific type of ulcer once changed. Post office, available halso,, is part a tranche of documents published by whistleblower Francis Haugen’s legal team to which Gizmodo and other outlets were given access. (You can see what we have discovered so far.) The names of Facebook’s “lower” employees have been redacted, so it is unclear who specifically participated in the debate on the content of climate change denial. But the conversations reveal how much Facebook was without hands with climate denial, and how even within a company dedicated net zero emissions by 2030, the laissez-faire view of perpetuating denial still prevails in some angles.
The internal logs are from 2019, a year before Facebook opened its own Climate Science Information Center job page. In the opening post, the employee asks what Facebook is doing to deal with misinformation:
I am writing to find out if we have a policy regarding the denial of climate change, especially human involvement in climate change. Is this covered by our application of misinformation about information and downgrading? I wonder because this is scientifically based, we think differently about how this is treated with fact-based fact-checking.
The post is further linked to a Facebook post that copied and pasted an article on climate denial from radio host Hal Turner, who was branded as a “true white believer.” Southern Legal Center for Poverty. An employee speculates that this copy-and-paste approach may have been used to “bypass” Facebook by limiting post traffic.
The response to the inquiry states that Facebook does not “remove misinformation except in very narrow cases where we have strong evidence that the content can cause immediate harm to people offline”, but that the company reduces misleading content and uses third-party fact-checking. Another answer notes that “copy-pasting link text to bypass URL execution is interesting – we haven’t seen it too much before.”
Climate change is already harming people offline. An increasing number of attribution studies for extreme events show that rising greenhouse gas emissions increase the prospects and intensity of heavy waves, heavy rainfall, forest fires and a range of other environmental disasters. A study published last year, for example, found that fires in Australia in the period 2019-2020 – fires that broke out just months after an internal discussion on Facebook in October 2019 – cost the country $ 1.5 billion in health care costs. Others line of research showed that the time that caused the fires, which killed at least 34 people and 3 billion animals, was 30% more likely due to global warming.
This is one of countless examples of real-world damage already happening due to the climate crisis. The political system has failed to deal with this damage in large part because misinformation has made the necessary actions almost unattainable. A separate internal thread 2019 He seems to acknowledge this reality, with a post stating: “If someone uses a Facebook search to deliberately sow suspicion and slow down the public’s reaction to the climate crisis, they are using our service to endanger the lives of billions of people in the coming decades. Is this an attack we are ready for? ”
Why Facebook would allow denial to exist – and in some cases flourish – on its platform may be a matter of dollars and cents for advertising. But, as the October 2019 thread reveals, some in the company are also inclined to teach controversy. The answer to the initial post is:
It seems problematic to treat scientific consensus as the definitive truth in order to suppress content that disagrees with it.
The scientific consensus is periodically annulled. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone he knew gastric ulcer is caused by stress and excess stomach acid. The idea that they were caused by microbes was uncovered in 1954. If Facebook had existed at the time, we might have faced pressure to prevent lunatics from spreading their refuted claims. … Today, however, we I know stomach ulcers are caused by bacteria. … The Nobel Prize came after many years of opposing the scientific consensus.
“My immediate reaction is that these are‘ skeptics like Galileo ’claims that climate deniers have sometimes made in an effort to position themselves as victims of authoritarian repression of ideas,” Geoffrey Supran, Harvard Research Fellow and Director of Climate Accountability Communications at Climate Social Science Network , is stated in the e-mail. He went on to say that “climate scientists’ views are based on decades of peer-reviewed evidence and reasoning.” The views of those who deny the climate are not. ”
Indeed, Hal Turner’s post that sparked the debate misrepresents NASA’s findings and the prevailing evidence that humans are heating the planet by burning fossil fuels. Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard science historian who wrote one of the foundational texts on climate denial and also worked with Supran, said that Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton actually put forward a similar argument “That scientists had a consensus on eugenics. Therefore, one should not believe what they are saying today about climate change. She wrote an The 2005 opinion refutes Crichton, which sounds true in light of today’s discussion on Facebook. Just because “a group of X scientists, a few decades ago, may have been wrong about Y, doesn’t mean that [a] a different group today, dealing with another problem, will probably make a mistake now, ”she wrote in an email.
Facebook Climate Sscience Center appeared in 2020 in response to some of the criticism of how the company deals with climate science on the site. The center provides people with facts about climate change and bio recently updated with quizzes and a million-dollar inflow to strengthen fact-checking. But it does nothing to remove denial on the platform.
Earther spoke to Facebook about this internal discussion and its climate policy that will continue.
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