Facebook Must Stop the Spread of Climate Misinformation
An open letter to Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Facebook’s Oversight Board.
July 1, 2020
To: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Facebook Oversight Board
Cc: Mark Zuckerberg, Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, Evelyn Aswad, Endy Bayuni, Catalina Botero-Marino, Katherine Chen, Nighat Dad, Jamal Greene, Pamela Karlan, Tawakkol Karman, Maina Kiai, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Ronaldo Lemos, Michael McConnell, Julie Owono, Emi Palmor, Alan Rusbridger, András Sajó, Nicolas Suzor, Nick Clegg
In the four years you served Denmark as Prime Minister, you saw the effects of CO2 on climate change first hand. You made this dire challenge central to your tenure; you took action and asked other leaders to do the same. You made bold and ambitious commitments to achieve 100% renewable energy. You were celebrated for affirming the urgent necessity of acting to halt climate change.
Above all, you told the world that climate change is not “an opinion.” It is fact.
Facebook is allowing the spread of climate misinformation to flourish, unchecked, across the globe. Instead of heeding the advice of independent scientists and approved fact-checkers from Climate Feedback, Facebook sided with fossil fuel lobbyists by allowing the CO2 Coalition to take advantage of a giant loophole for “opinion” content. The loophole has allowed climate denial to fester by labeling it “opinion,” and thus, avoiding the platform’s fact-checking processes.
Facebook knows how to take action against misinformation. When COVID-19 denial took hold on the platform, it was forcibly shut down because Facebook understood that the spread of COVID-19 misinformation could cause imminent physical harm to the health and well-being of Facebook users. Climate denial and misinformation are also deadly. By allowing climate misinformation to go unchecked, Facebook is actively putting the health and well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable low-income communities and communities of color at risk.
You and the Oversight Board must step in and enact the same standard for the denial of climate change as you did for COVID-19 misinformation.
The integrity of the Oversight Board is at risk. Mark Zuckerberg has refused to recognize that he must get the facts right on climate, and refused to acknowledge that climate denial on his platform is as dangerous a threat to future generations as any.
We are asking you to lead the charge to fix this. Until Facebook takes a stand, climate denial groups such as the CO2 Coalition will continue to exploit your platform to sow discord and put our nation’s health and security at dire risk.
When you were Prime Minister, you knew for certain that climate change was fact, not opinion, and needs to be treated as such. In your current role as an overseer of Facebook’s dangerous misinformation practice, our plea is grave: please, Ms. Thorning-Schmidt, take action now.
- Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Fight and the Southern Economic Advancement Project
- LaTricea Adams, President, Black Millennials 4 Flint
- Ken Berlin, CEO, Climate Reality Action Fund
- Carol Browner, Chair, League of Conservation Voters Board; Former EPA Administrator
Dominique Browning, Senior Director and Co-Founder, Moms Clean Air Force
- Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
- Gerald Butts, President, New Climate; former Principal Secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
- Alex Cornell du Houx, Co-Founder and President, Elected Officials to Protect America
- Abbie Dillen, President, Earthjustice
- Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists
- Lori Lodes, Executive Director, Climate Power 2020
- Gina McCarthy, President and CEO, NRDC Action Fund; former EPA Administrator
- Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America President, 350.org
- Collin O’Mara, President, National Wildlife Federation
- Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth
- John Podesta, Founder, Center for American Progress
- Tom Steyer, Founder, NextGen America; Climate Activist
- Robert Wendelgass, President and CEO, Clean Water Action
Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society