National & International

Facebook labels climate change misinformation in UK

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Facebook will start labelling misinformation about the climate crisis in a trial limited to the UK, according to the Guardian.

As with US election or Covid related posts, Facebook will attempt to algorithmically discern posts that shared common myths or misconceptions.

Labels will be attached to selected posts with a link to Facebook’s Climate Science Information Center.

Facebook’s Climate Science Information Center is an existing hub that includes relevant news articles, climate change data and recommendations for Pages to follow.

Common climate change myths include the false claim that polar bear populations are not suffering due to global warming or that excess carbon emissions help plant’s life.

Experts from the University of Cambridge, the Yale Program on Climate Communication, and universities worldwide will produce the fact-checked content.

“The spread of damaging falsehoods endangers the level of international cooperation required to prevent catastrophic global warming,” said Cambridge academic Dr Sander van der Linden.

‘Facebook is in a unique position to counter the circulation of online misinformation, and the new climate ‘myth-busting’ section is an important step toward debunking dangerous falsehoods,” he added.

Facebook usually labels misinformation with the help of third-party fact-checkers.

The fact-checking company can apply one of eight content warnings to the post, such as “False Headline,” “Misleading,” or “False.”

If a user clicks to share a post labelled as false or partially false, the user receives a pop-up warning. False posts are also ranked to appear lower in news feeds.

Facebook typically does not remove false climate change posts, unlike Covid-19 misinformation.

The platform normally removes only posts that pose an imminent threat of harm.

“We’re not objecting to people having opinions; we’re objecting to the spread of disinformation and lies under the cover of opinion,” said Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M.

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