Facebook oversight board urged to tackle climate “loophole”

By Ben Geman

Prominent environmentalists and Democratic activists say Facebook is “allowing the spread of climate misinformation to flourish, unchecked” and urging the company’s external oversight board to intervene.

Driving the news: A new open letter with signatories including Stacey Abrams, John Podesta and Tom Steyer takes aim at distribution of content from a group called the CO2 Coalition without warning labels or restrictions.

  • The coalition argues more carbon emissions are a “net benefit” and rejects consensus science on warming.

Why it matters: The letter, organized by the recently launched group Climate Power 2020, could provide an early test for how the recently established oversight board deals with the topic.

The state of play: The letter to Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair of the board, centers on recent reports about how Facebook addressed a CO2 Coalition post.

  • “Instead of heeding the advice of independent scientists and approved fact-checkers from [the nonpartisan fact-checking group] Climate Feedback, Facebook sided with fossil fuel lobbyists by allowing the CO2 Coalition to take advantage of a giant loophole for ‘opinion’ content,” it states.
  • “The loophole has allowed climate denial to fester by labeling it ‘opinion,’ and thus, avoiding the platform’s fact-checking processes,” the letter adds.

What’s next: It’s hard to say! Scott Rosenberg, Axios managing editor for tech, notes that the oversight board hasn’t formally begun operating yet and will have discretion about which complaints to take on.

This article appeared on the Axios website at https://www.axios.com/facebook-oversight-climate-misinformation-12249815-a829-403b-a6cc-e659b25b760b.html