Pinterest Becomes First Major Digital Platform to Remove Climate Change Misinformation

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Image sharing platform Pinterest says it’s the first major digital platform to adopt a misinformation policy aimed at misleading claims about climate change. Under its new guidelines, Pinterest says it will remove content from the platform that promotes climate change denial.

“Pinterest believes in cultivating a space that’s trusted and truthful for those using our platform,” Sarah Bromma, Pinterest’s head of Policy, said in a statement.

“This bold move is an expansion of our broader misinformation guidelines, which we first developed in 2017 to address public health misinformation, and have since updated to address new and emerging issues as they come to the forefront. The expanded climate misinformation policy is yet another step in Pinterest’s journey to combat misinformation and create a safe space online,” she added.

Pinterest climate guidelines

The new guidelines will see Pinterest take down content that denies the human influence on climate change, denies science-backed consensus, and false or misleading claims that contradict the current science. The new rules apply to user posts and ads, Pinterest says.

Both moderators and automated systems will help Pinterest identify ads that violate its new policies. The Pinterest Trust & Safety team will also review reports of violations submitted by users through the platform’s dedicated feature for flagging misinformation. Pinterest launched a similar protocol to help mitigate the spread of covid-19 vaccine misinformation.

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

The platform says it will support the shift by providing more information for its users. It’s launching a Creator Originals content series focused on secondhand shopping, upcycling, and minimizing food waste among other topics.

The announcement follows an increase in searches across the platform related to sustainability and the environment. Pinterest says increases for “zero waste lifestyle” were up 64 percent in the last year; for “recycled home decor” searches increased 95 percent, while“zero waste tips” increased by six-fold and “recycling clothes ideas” were up four-fold.

Pinterest says it’s also giving ad credits to sustainably-minded organizations including Project Drawdown and Potential Energy Coalition.

Facebook climate change misinformation

Social media platform Facebook came under fire for its failure to curb misinformation about climate change. It has stepped up efforts in recent months, but a recent report says the platform still pushes skeptics toward misinformation.

The report, compiled by the group Global Witness, says the algorithm underscored doubts instead of pivoting users toward facts.

Photo by Timothy Hales Bennett on Unsplash

The group created fictitious users, one a skeptic and one who subscribes to science. Global Witness tracked the accounts and what the algorithm delivered. For the skeptic, their feed included denials that climate change is man-made, including pages claiming climate change is a hoax.

“Facebook has repeatedly said it wants to combat climate disinformation on its platform,” Global Witness researcher Mai Rosner said in a statement, “but our investigation shows how worryingly easy it is for its users to be led down a dangerous path that flies in the face of both science and reality.”

Earlier this week the IPCC released the third installment of the Sixth Assessment Report on climate change. While the report says humanity presently has all the tools needed to combat climate change, it says time is running out. It urges for drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2025 in order to avoid what would likely be irreversible damage.

Lead photo courtesy Dima Solomin on Unsplash


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