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Misleading information about climate promoted by Facebook during COP26

In recent weeks, false and misleading claims were promoted by Facebook advertisers on its platform regarding climate change as the COP26 conference was getting underway.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs in a blog, said that the company is putting in efforts to fight against climate change misinformation since the Glasgow summit has begun, an ad was run on Facebook by a conservative media network Newsmax that called the man-made global warming a “hoax”.

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More than 200,000 views were garnered by the ad, which had multiple versions.

Recently, Meta was introduced as Facebook’s new name, and it does not have any specific policy on climate misinformation or posts.

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The ads which contradict scientific consensus would no longer be allowed regarding climate changes on Youtube and other services; however, it would allow such content which discusses false claims.

The posts which contain misinformation are not removed by Facebook unless they are capable of causing real-world harm, such as they did around Covid-19.

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However, Facebook says that they demote the posts which are ranked as false by their third-party fact-checkers and then prohibits these ads with the debunked claims.

The users who continuously post or share false information on Facebook might face restrictions to share anything on the platform or promote their posts.

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In a statement, when asked about sharing misleading information on climate, a spokesperson of the company said these kinds of ads are promoted on many platforms. However, Facebook provides an extra layer of transparency by availing them to the general audience in the platform’s Ad library for up to seven years after the ads’ publication.

Facebook’s way of combatting misleading information of climate has caused debate and quarrels between its employees too.

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On Facebook’s internal message board show, the employees were sparring over the company’s handling of the misleading information on climate.

An employee said in a post in January that when searching for climate change in its video Watch section, they found noticeable misinformation results.

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The kind of proactiveness which was seen during Covid-19 should be seen in the company’s approach towards misleading climate information; two external researchers told Reuters.

Facebook is advised on its climate misinformation work by John Cook, a postdoctoral researcher at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University said the platform needs to address this issue with the same urgency as it showed during Covid-19.

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