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Facebook’s Climate Science Information Center is bad news

Hey, it's Mark Zuckerberg.

Hey, it’s Mark Zuckerberg.
photo:: Drew Angerer ((Getty Images)

Facebook’s plan to combat climate misinformation that is rampant on its website is here. It is a… “Information center for climate science“From facts, figures and news about the climate crisis that obscures the systematic changes needed to tackle climate change, and offers tips that reflect the topics of big oil conversation. The whole thing is a huge hand wave to ddistract us from looking for the real solutions to climate change and the role Facebook is playing in corroding it.

Here I would normally say that what Facebook does is good something about climate change. But the era of belly-rubbing corporate misconduct is over. What Facebook is doing is similar to the National Rifle Association’s argument that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun. In this case, Facebook is the arms dealer distributing arms to both sides.

Facebooks announcement The information center begins with the line “Climate change is real,” which is usually a precursor to bullshit. Congratulation. Welcome to the party scientists have been holding for more than 100 years.

Many users who opened Facebook on Tuesday in the US, UK and Germany were greeted with the opportunity to visit the Information center for climate science. The page includes information from trusted scientific sources, localized climate data trends and, at least on Tuesday, a request for that user to share a photo of a place I want to protect from climate change using the hashtag #OurPlanetChallenge. If 100,000 users did this, Facebook would raise $ 100,000 to the Arbor Day Foundation.

Science is all well and good, but we are way behind the era when scientific knowledge alone will solve everything. To paraphrase a friend of the blog and climate essayist Mary HeglarAll we have to do to understand climate change is look out the window. The fires in the west, relentless heat waves, and other crippling effects of climate change that lead to real world suffering tell the story much more clearly than graphs showing local temperature trends.

Even more disturbing, many of the solutions mentioned on this page are tips for life in the garden: turn off lights, re-use things, and drive less. All great and things we should be doing, clear. But they are not going to look at climate change and highlight it as the Solutions play directly into the hands of the industry that is causing the crisis.

“The ‘solutions’ proposed in the information center come straight from the current fossil fuel playbook,” said Genevieve Guenther, founder of End Climate Silence, in an email. “It is all about inadequate individual measures such as recycling, switching off the lights when leaving the room, wearing your clothes for longer, etc.”

Here’s a good fact that I didn’t find in Facebook’s science center: only 100 companies are responsible for this 71% of emissions.

Here are some solutions I haven’t used Facebook for: a committed public with a shared version of reality, politicians drastically curtailing the power of corporate monopolies from big tech to big oil, and transforming all industries.

Facebook is actively working against these goals, except (maybe) the latter. Their caustic effect on democracy and common truth is well documented. I’m not going to go into this ad nauseam, just looking at the last six days for Facebook in terms of the climate crisis and the company’s contribution to dissolving reality.

With unprecedented fires Facebook raged across the west coast, allowing Law Enforcement Today to post one unfounded rumor This “Antifa” had triggered forest fires that quickly spread across the network. The company eventually limited the mail’s reach after it was shared more than 71,000 times. After more than 48 hours of public outcry Facebook deleted itHowever, it is unclear how many thousands of screenshots and private conversations continue to spread the lie. The result of this climate misinformation was at least two journalists Some law enforcement officials at gunpoint encouraged vigilante justice despite the authorities desperately trying to debunk the claim, and a number of people ignored evacuation orders to protect their homes from Antifa. This followed that exactly the same playbook as lies during the Australian bushfires earlier this year as well as the Coronavirus pandemicand yet the social media giant seemed completely unprepared.

Then there is earlier this summer when Facebook overruled fact checkers that labeled climate information as misleading on the website. open a gap for opinion articles that are exempt from fact-checking. The company is also happy to take money from climate deniers to use its platform to spread misinformation. The Heartland Institute is currently running two misleading ads on the platform. Each costs less than $ 100, but they reach more than 1 million people. Or think of Illinois Citizen for American Greatness, which spent between $ 200 and $ 299 reinforcing the myth that the Green New Deal will ban hamburgers earlier this summer.

Scientists, meanwhile, couldn’t advertise on Facebook without putting themselves at higher risk. This is because climate change is referred to as a “problem” where sites wanting to pay have to expand their reach to enter personal information. Katharine Hayhoe, a prominent climate researcher, said E&E News In July, Facebook ranked its basic climate education videos as “political”, fearing that entering their personal information could open the door to further harassment.

“Nothing in Facebook’s announcement changes this policy,” said Günther, who recently did so Facts climate messages blocked. “So climate denial will continue to circulate freely and climate science will continue to be suppressed while ‘scientific information’ is sealed off in a ‘center’, which allows Facebook to give the impression that they care about climate change.”

That’s just the climate sphere. Don’t even let me start [gestures wildly at everything]. The company has also fought regulation at every turn, addressing issues of its commitment to suppress misinformation.

To close the circle of our arms dealers analogy, Facebook gave scientists a slingshot and given deniers and humans the opportunity to maintain the status quo of a fleet of F-18s. And the planet is in the crosshairs.

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