Facebook has introduced a new “Climate Change Information Center” to connect users to science-backed facts on the climate crisis. It comes as a part of the social media giant’s renewed sustainability efforts, which include slashing its carbon emissions to zero by the end of this year. In recent months, Facebook has come under widespread criticism over its failure to combat misinformation.
On Monday (September 14), Facebook revealed that it will be doubling down on sustainability. It said that it will achieve net zero carbon emissions and become 100% renewable energy powered throughout its global operations by the end of this year, and will also be introducing a new “Climate Science Information Center” on its platform.
“Climate change is real. The science is unambiguous and the need to act grows more urgent by the day. As a global company that connects more than 3 billion people across our apps every month, we understand the responsibility Facebook has and we want to make a real difference,” said the company in a press release.
According to the firm, the new hub and the content within it will provide factual and up-to-date information on the climate emergency. Data, facts and figures on it will be sourced from reputable organisations and institutes, including the United Nations IPCC, the UNEP, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The Met Office and World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Climate science news will also be spotlighted on the hub, which will first roll out in the U.S., U.K., France and Germany before other markets.
The new climate information feature on Facebook is modelled in a similar way to its recent “Covid-19 Information Center”, which according to the firm has directed “more than 2 billion people to information from health authorities”.
Despite these moves, Facebook continues to battle a public relations crisis over its perceived lack of action against misinformation and harmful hate speech on its platform in recent months.
In late May, Facebook came under fire for failing to take down U.S. President Trump’s post about the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, where he wrote: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter had placed the same post on its platform behind a notification saying it violated rules on “glorifying violence”.
Facebook is also under pressure at the moment from a protest led by the Stop Hate for Profit coalition, which will see high-profile celebrities and influencers including Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Jennifer Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher “freeze” their social media accounts to demand platforms do more to combat fake news, hate speech and misleading claims.
In their announcement of the new climate feature, the social media giant tried to allay concerns. “We’re committed to tackling climate misinformation. We partner with more than 70 independent fact-checking organizations globally, covering more than 60 languages,” Facebook said.
“These fact-checkers can and do rate climate science content. As with all types of claims debunked by our fact-checkers, we reduce the distribution of these posts in News Feed and apply a warning label on top of these posts both on Facebook and Instagram so people understand that the content has been rated false.”
Lead image courtesy of Unsplash / Freepng / designed by Green Queen Media.