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How Facebook Handles Climate Disinformation

  • July 15, 2020

Mr. Stone said that The Washington Examiner post, originally published as an op-ed, clearly aligned with Facebook’s definition of opinion content and added that fact checkers should have been aware of that classification.

Mr. Podesta asserted that the policy amounts to a loophole for disinformation. He said some opinion pieces are “full of factual lies.”

“We’re not objecting to people having opinions,” he said. “We’re objecting to the spread of disinformation and lies under the cover of opinion.”

Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric science at Texas AM who helped fact-check the Washington Examiner item, agreed. He said he supports debate around policy questions, like how much carbon emissions should be reduced, but not about the decades of peer-reviewed research that have established scientific facts about climate change. “They aren’t up for debate,” Mr. Dessler said. “Not everybody’s opinion is equal on that.”

When pressed to combat disinformation, Facebook often points to its policy of protecting free speech and freedom of opinion. In May, the company founder, Mark Zuckerberg, told Fox News that the platform should not become the “arbiter of truth of everything people say online.”

Analysts point out, however, that not all speech is equal on Facebook. Some posts, often selected by algorithms because they are controversial or have high engagement, can be promoted to reach millions of people. That selective turbocharge gives them far more reach and power than other posts or spoken conversations at, say, a dinner with friends.

Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center at Columbia University, which studies digital journalism and platforms, noted that since the last election, Facebook’s fight against disinformation has been front-and-center in its talking points.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/climate/climate-facebook-fact-checking.html

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