SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - Facebook will begin labelling some user posts that mention climate change in the same way it has annotated posts discussing elections and Covid-19, a sign the social network is taking climate-related misinformation more seriously.
The labels will direct users to Facebook's Climate Science Information Centre - an existing hub that includes related news articles, climate change data and recommendations for Pages to follow. The new labels will be added to some posts about climate change, regardless of their accuracy, a strategy Facebook has used with other widely discussed topics as a way to fight falsehoods.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has argued that the best way to keep misinformation from spreading on its networks is not just to remove misleading posts, but to offer people accurate information from authoritative sources. The labels are rolling out first to users in Britain, though the plan is to bring them to more countries soon, according to a Facebook blog post.
Facebook has been used to spread climate misinformation in much the same way the service is used for sharing all kinds of misleading posts. False statements about climate change reviewed by Facebook's fact-checkers are flagged, but unlike Covid-19 misinformation, climate posts are not typically removed. That's because Facebook doesn't consider most climate misinformation to pose an imminent threat of harm, which is the bar for removing false information from the service.
The expanded labels were announced on Thursday (Feb 18) alongside a handful of other climate-related updates. Facebook is adding a new section to its information centre dedicated to "debunking climate change myths". The myths will be refuted by experts from a number of universities, including George Mason University, the Yale Programme on Climate Communication and the University of Cambridge.
It's not clear how many people have visited Facebook's Climate Science Information Centre to date, though the company has said that more than 600 million people clicked on a similar information hub dedicated to Covid-19 information. The climate-related hub is now available in 16 countries, including 12 new countries starting Thursday.