Facebook climate change fact-checking, training commitment gets a COP26 boost

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Facebook fact-checking and proactive information sharing on climate change is being ramped up globally, with the company saying it has “an opportunity and a responsibility to make a real difference” in fighting the climate crisis. 

The company has outlined a range of solutions including a means where citizens of any country can check progress on achieving announced emissions targets. 

As delegates from around the world meet in Glasgow to discuss strategies to address the crisis, the much-criticised social-media platform that says it connects 3 billion people every month, says it will expand its Climate Science Center to more than 100 countries to connect more people with factual resources from leading climate organisations, continue adding informational labels to posts about climate change and directing people to the Climate Science Center and will launch Green Boost, a new sustainability training program to help small businesses reduce their carbon emissions and grow sustainably.

 “Climate change is the greatest threat we all face — and the need to act grows more urgent every day,” says Nick Clegg, VP, global affairs & communications at Facebook. 

“The science is clear and unambiguous. As world leaders, advocates, environmental groups and others meet in Glasgow this week at COP26, we want to see bold action agreed to, with the strongest possible commitments to achieve net-zero targets that help limit warming to 1.5˚C.”

Clegg says Facebook wants to help people find “accurate, science-led information, while also tackling misinformation”.

Last year, the company launched the Climate Science Center on Facebook to connect people with factual resources from the world’s leading climate organisations, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UN Environment Program and more than 200 others. They can also find steps they can take in their own lives to combat climate change. 

This week, Facebook is adding a new section that shows countries’ greenhouse gas emissions compared to their commitments and targets, so people can see progress and what more needs to be done.

Clegg says the company has a responsibility to tackle climate misinformation on its services, (which also include Instagram). With the help of partners around the world that review and rate content, Facebook will reduce the distribution of content that is rated as false so fewer people see it and show a warning label with more context, much in the way it does with Covid misinformation. Clegg says penalties are applied to people who repeatedly share false information.

Informational labels to some posts on climate change direct people to the Climate Science Center to learn more. From this week, these labels will be added to relevant posts in more than a dozen more countries, including Belgium, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, and Taiwan.

Facebook climate change fact-checking, training commitment gets a COP26 boost
Screenshots showing the Climate Science Center.

Ahead of COP26, the company has activated a feature it uses during critical public events to use keyword detection to make related content easier for fact-checkers to find – “because speed is especially important during such events,” says Clegg.  This feature is available to fact-checkers for content in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, German, French, and Dutch. 

Encouraging conversations around climate change

Facebook’s initiative is also supporting the UN’s goal to encourage conversations around climate change and help people take action. 

Facebook climate change fact-checking, training commitment gets a COP26 boost
The Act Now interface on Messenger and Instagram.

“With the help of Spectrm, the UN will soon be launching an updated version of its ActNow chat experience with 10 new actions you can take to combat climate change. It’s available on Messenger through the app, Instagram and the UN website.”

And just in time for COP26, Messenger is supporting the work of the UNFCCC by releasing new camera stickers that help people strike up a conversation by visually showing their support for the planet in their next Story or chat on Messenger and Instagram, or in conversations using Messenger Kids.

Facebook climate change fact-checking, training commitment gets a COP26 boost
Camera stickers supporting the work of the UNFCCC.

Sustainability training for small businesses

In another initiative, Facebook is launching a sustainability training program to support businesses on its apps to take climate action, reduce their carbon emissions and help grow their business in a sustainable way. 

The program will start this month in the UK and Spain, with a particular focus on restaurants, hospitality and food producers. France, Italy and other countries will be included next year.

Walking the talk

Clegg acknowledges Facebook needed to get its own house in order before championing the climate-change cause on its networks. 

“That starts with getting our own house in order. Starting last year, we achieved net-zero emissions for our global operations, and we’re supported by 100-per-cent renewable energy. To achieve this we’ve reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 94 per cent since 2017. We invest enough in wind and solar energy to cover all of our operations. And for the remaining emissions, we support projects that remove emissions from the atmosphere.”

He says Facebook has set ambitious goals for our suppliers to be net-zero and for its operations to restore more water than it uses by 2030. 

“Since our first wind contract in 2013, we’ve contracted over seven gigawatts of new solar and wind energy, all in the same power grids where our data centres are located, which are some of the most efficient in the world. We are also implementing measures to reduce our business-travel emissions, and joining the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance as a founding member to help accelerate the path to net-zero air travel by driving investment in sustainable aviation fuel,” says Clegg.

“These are just some of the steps we’re taking as a company and as a platform to try and make a positive difference. Our goal isn’t just to be one of the most sustainable companies, but to make it easier for our users and employees to be too. 

“If we all play our part – from world leaders and governments to private companies and individuals – we can rise to this challenge together.”

Top image: @Fancycrave via Twenty20.

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill is a content writer with more than 30 years of experience in five countries. His style has built upon award-winning success in news and features in the print media to leadership in digital communication, spanning news websites, social media, magazines, brochures, and contributing to books. Recognising the devastating impact of consumer behaviour on the planet and wanting to help make a difference Robert launched Viable.Earth as a platform to celebrate positive contributions by brands, companies and individuals towards reducing environmental impact and improve sustainability – especially in the fields of fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, and transportation.



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