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Facebook must do more to fight climate change denial, campaigners say

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By Hebe Campbell
A home burns as a wildfire called the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif.
A home burns as a wildfire called the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif.   -   Copyright  Noah Berger/Noah Berger
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A campaign group has accused Facebook of systematically spreading climate change denial.

Stop Funding Heat, a campaign group that aims to counter online climate denial and misinformation, says the social media giant is directly spreading climate denial on their advertising platforms.

"Facebook is taking money in many occasions for content that is out and about climate denial." Sean Buchan, a researcher for Stop Funding Heat told The Cube, Euronews' social media newsdesk.

"This is how their entire business model works, they take money from advertisers to put in between what we call organic posts on the platform."

The group's 40-page study claims that there is no mention of climate misinformation in any of Facebook’s public policies and that existing policies are ineffective.

Facebook told Euronews that its Climate Science Information Center includes information from leading organisations that reaches 100,000 people per day.

The company also employs third-party fact-checkers to review and rate content.

"When they [third party fact-checkers] rate this content as false, we add a warning label and reduce its distribution so fewer people see it. We also take action against Pages, Groups, and accounts that continue to share false claims about climate science,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

But Stop Funding Heat said that the Climate Science Information Center does not go far enough.

"It does not really follow the climate communication science as it should. It says you need to inoculate people to myths that you see but the Information Center doesn't really connect people to the myth they saw and then inoculate against that," Buchan said.

"Our recommendations for Facebook are number one, stop taking money for climate denial on its platform as soon as possible. Number two, update its community and advertising guidelines standards to include climate change misinformation."

"We would also like Facebook to be more open with the extent of climate change misinformation on their platform...and how much is being stopped."

2021 is set to be the most challenging year yet for climate change misinformation according to Stop Funding Heat.