Facebook: Act Urgently to Take On the Threat of Climate Deniers

A follow-up open letter to Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Facebook’s Oversight Board

July 7, 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


Ms. Thorning-Schmidt,

We are disappointed to have received a response from the Oversight Board’s head of communications to our July 1, 2020 letter instead of yourself or another Oversight Board co-chair. The Facebook-created loophole allows climate deniers to circumvent independent fact-checkers to publish lies and misinformation.

The Facebook Oversight Board was first proposed more than two years ago by Mark Zuckerberg himself. It’s been 19 months since Mr. Zuckerberg formally announced the Board’s creation and almost 10 months since Facebook’s senior-most leaders touted the launch of the Oversight Board to members of the media worldwide. Your participation as a co-chair was announced in early May.

Facebook leaders have found time in the intervening months to sit with members of the press to herald the creation of an action-oriented Oversight Board. Meanwhile, Facebook is allowing misinformation to spread, and they are hiding behind the promise of an “Oversight Board” that appears to be in name only. The Board does not hear cases and recently said it is not yet operational.

As environmental leaders, we feel an urgent duty to take on the threat of climate deniers and climate change. We expect Facebook to work with the same urgency.

Climate denial and misinformation are deadly. By preventing any meaningful form of oversight and allowing these lies to go unchecked, Facebook is jeopardizing the health and well-being of people around the globe with the most vulnerable communities most at risk.

If the Board exists to “make the final judgment call on what should be acceptable speech in a community that reflects the social norms and values of people all around the world,” as Mr. Zuckerberg stated, we need your oversight now more than ever. Hate speech, climate denial, and health threats have tarnished the integrity of Facebook. If the company fails to enact any tangible oversight, we struggle to see the value of this Board as anything but a public relations stunt.

Mr. 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.

As a global climate leader, you know that climate change is not opinion. It is fact. And it is actively killing humans across the globe. We see you as our ally in the fight to protect our planet for future generations, and we ask you to lead the charge to fix the climate loophole.

We urge you to hold the first meeting of the full Oversight Committee in the next two weeks to address Facebook allowing the spread of misinformation and overturning decisions made by scientists and fact-checkers.

Until Facebook takes a stand, climate deniers will continue to exploit your platform to sow discord and put the world’s health and security at dire risk.

Signed:

  • Stacey Abrams, Founder of Fair Fight and the Southern Economic Advancement Project
  • LaTricea D. Adams, Founder CEO & President, Black Millennials 4 Flint
  • Ken Berlin, CEO, Climate Reality Action Fund
  • Carol Browner, League of Conservation Voters Board Chair and Former EPA Administrator
  • Dominique Browning, Senior Director and Co-founder, Moms Clean Air Force
  • Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
  • Gerald Butts, President, New Climate and former Principal Secretary to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • Alex Cornell du Houx, Co-Founder and President, Elected Officials to Protect America
  • Abbie Dillen, Earthjustice President
  • Ken Kimmell, Union of Concerned Scientists President
  • Lori Lodes, Climate Power 2020 Executive Director
  • Gina McCarthy, President and CEO of the NRDC Action Fund and former EPA Administrator
  • Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, 350.org North America Director
  • Collin O’Mara, National Wildlife Federation President
  • Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth U.S. President
  • John Podesta, Founder of the Center for American Progress
  • Tom Steyer, Climate activist and Founder of NextGen America
  • Robert Wendelgass, Clean Water Action President and CEO
  • Jamie Williams,  President, The Wilderness Society

Read Facebook's Response

On July 3, a Facebook spokesman responded to Climate Power 2020’s Executive Director, Lori Lodes, as calls grow for the company to stop the spread of climate misinformation.

Read the letter

Facebook Must Act Now To Take On The Threat Of Climate Deniers

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