New Data Shows Climate Misinformation Rampant on Facebook, Significantly Worse Than Reported; 1.3m Daily Views Show Failure of FB Climate Center
Massive Melting Ice Sculpture at the Capitol in DC Reveals Facebook’s Flood of Climate Denial; Advocates Call for Total Ban on Climate Disinformation on Facebook
GLASGOW//DC — Exclusive new data released today revealed for the first time the scale of climate misinformation on Facebook. A new report from Stop Funding Heat and the Real Facebook Oversight Board, In Denial: Facebook’s Growing Friendship with Climate Disinformation, revealed rampant climate denial, disinformation and misleading content across Facebook’s platforms. As Facebook uses COP to show its climate credentials, an action organized by SumOfUs at the U.S. Capitol revealed Facebook’s logo burning a massive block of melting ice, calling out the platform’s greenwashing and damage.
“Our report shows the staggering scale of climate misinformation on Facebook, in posts, groups and ads,” said Sean Buchan, Chief Researcher for Stop Funding Heat. “This is where the ambitions of COP26 and the revelations of the Facebook Papers collide, with our data showing Facebook is among the world’s biggest purveyors of climate misinformation. Clearly Facebook’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program, and its Climate Science Center, has failed.”
- Climate misinformation is rampant on Facebook. Using a dataset of 195 Facebook Pages and Groups, Stop Funding Heat found an estimated 818,000 to 1.36 million daily views of climate misinformation on the platform. This is up to 13.6x more than Facebook claims to send to its Climate Science Center.
- The total climate misinformation from January 2021 to August 2021 is 199 million to 331 million views.
- Just 3.6% of the climate misinformation identified was fact checked (had a fact checking label). Over 85% did not have a fact checking label or a link to the Climate Science Center.
- Facebook is still taking money to publish climate misinformation. We found 113 climate misinformation adverts on Facebook’s Ad Library between January and October 2021. 78% of the estimated spend came from 7 Pages that were flagged one year ago in a previous report. Facebook has done nothing.
In a statement, the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a leading watchdog of Facebook, said that “Facebook is the Big Tobacco of our generation, greenwashing to avoid responsibility and sowing confusion and doubt about climate change in the global conversation. We urge media, shareholders and policymakers not to buy what Facebook is selling in Glasgow. They are putting the climate and future generations at grave risk.”
In DC this morning, SumOfUs, a campaigning organization working to curb the growing power of corporations, dropped a massive, 5,000lb block of recycled ice in front of the U.S. Capitol. As the ice melts, the block reveals flames and Facebook’s logo, powering the ice melt and a flood of disinformation as Facebook does across its platforms. [PHOTOS AND VIDEO LINKED HERE] This is the second highly visible action from SumOfUs in two weeks, following a giant installation outside UK parliament showing Mark Zuckerberg surfing on a wave of cash.
“The flood of disinformation unleashed by Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook is drowning audiences around the world, with more than 1.3m views of climate misinformation each day,” said Rewan Al-Haddad, a campaigns advisor for SumOfUs. “Demanding better of Facebook only leads to more greenwashing and lies. We call for the US, UK, and the EU to stop Facebook’s unchecked power, for the sake of our climate and our collective future.”
The report outlines the abject failure of Facebook’s policy response, present in the two part strategy Facebook claims is effective but is clearly failing to stem the flow of disinformation:
- The Third-Party Fact-Checking Program, seeks to reduce the spread of deceptive content, but only 3.6% of the climate misinformation identified in the report was fact checked (had a fact checking label applied)
- The Climate Science Center, launched in September 2020, is an “information hub” curated by Facebook which shows users scientifically verified information on climate change as well as debunk climate misinformation. However, the level of traffic to this page is comparatively small to the misinformation found, and it is only present in 17 countries
Stop Funding Heat called for swift action, recommending that Facebook adopt and publicise a definition of climate misinformation that follows the latest climate communication science; share its internal research on how climate misinformation spreads on the platform; and confirm and properly enforce a total ban on climate misinformation in paid advertising.
“Facebook has been told over and over, through public reports and in private meetings, that their platform is a breeding ground for climate misinformation. Either they don’t care or they don’t know how to fix it.” said Buchan. “For all of Facebook’s promises and their greenwashing presence at COP, the only action that matters is the one they won’t take — stop climate misinformation.”
In Denial: Facebook’s Growing Friendship with Climate Disinformation is also the lead of the Real Facebook Oversight Board’s “Quarterly Harms Report,” which tracks Facebook’s activities for shareholders.
“If you’re investing in Facebook, you’re investing in climate denial. If you’re advertising on Facebook, you’re part of the company’s $29b in quarterly revenues, only 5% of which goes towards keeping people safe and disinformation off the platform,” said the Real Facebook Oversight Board in a statement. “Facebook cannot and will not police themselves. We need real, independent, transparent outside oversight and regulation and an investigation into all of Facebook’s activities — including the dangerous spread of climate disinformation.”
Read the full report at www.stopfundingheat.info/facebook-in-denial.
Stop Funding Heat is a group of people concerned at the way newspapers, news sites and online platforms readily spread climate lies in the pursuit of sales, clicks or vested interests. https://stopfundingheat.info/
Sum of Us is a community of people from around the world committed to curbing the growing power of corporations. https://www.sumofus.org/
The Real Facebook Oversight Board is an emergency response to the ongoing harms on Facebook’s platforms from leading global scholars, experts and advocates. https://rfob.medium.com/