Climate groups say social media companies leave ‘public in the dark’ on misinformation policies

Dominant social media companies fail to disclose their policies to combat climate misinformation, climate and human rights groups said in a new report released Wednesday. 

The report, released by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Avaaz, ranked the public policies on climate misinformation from Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter. 

The report said the companies are “largely leaving the public in the dark” about efforts to combat such misinformation. 

“There is a gross lack of transparency, as these companies conceal much of the data about the prevalence of digital climate dis/misinformation and any internal measures taken to address its spread. Pinterest and YouTube have taken notable steps to address climate dis/ misinformation, while Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter trail behind in their efforts,” the report states. 

Based on the criteria the groups used to gauge the scope and transparency of the platforms’ policies, Twitter was ranked the worst.

TikTok was ranked second to last, with Facebook just above it. Pinterest and YouTube were both in the top spot, but even those companies received just 14 out of the 27 total points the report used to assess the policies. 

The report reviewed if the companies had certain policies in place and gave a single point for each that was present based on a review of official public-facing guidelines, community standards or press releases. 

For example, on a question of whether the platform allows users to flag both organic and paid content, all platforms but Twitter had a policy and received one point.

Meanwhile, the report found that none of the platforms detailed how content is prioritized for fact-checking or review. 

The report also called for companies to release weekly transparency reports that detail the “scale and prevalence” of climate dis- and misinformation. None of the platforms reviewed in the report are doing so. 

Pinterest and YouTube were the only companies that adopted a climate expert-informed definition of climate disinformation and misinformation, according to the report. 

A Pinterest spokesperson said “fighting misinformation is complex and always evolving,” and the company is “constantly evaluating our policies, enforcement approaches and will continue to work with third party experts including the Climate Disinformation Coalition as new narratives and trends emerge.” 

“Our community values authentic content, and we do too, which is why we work with accredited fact-checkers to evaluate content and limit the spread of false or misleading climate information when we identify it,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. 

Spokespeople for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube did not respond to requests for comment.

Tags Avaaz climate misinformation Facebook Friends of the Earth Greenpeace Pinterest Social media Twitter

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