Facebook whistleblower accuses company of failing to address climate change misinformation

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Facebook is the subject of two new Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) complaints filed by Whistleblower Aid, the nonprofit that represents Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, first reported by The Washington Post† The complaints accuse Facebook, now Meta, of misleading investors about its efforts to tackle misinformation about climate change and COVID-19.

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The first complaint, obtained by The Washington Post, alleges the presence of readily available climate change misinformation on Facebook, flouting Facebook’s claims that it is fighting climate denial. It also includes internal documents detailing employees’ own experiences with climate-related falsehoods on the platform. As noted by The mail, an employee reports that he searched the Watching tab for “climate change” and then saw a video promoting “misinformation about the climate” as the second result. The video in question has reportedly been viewed 6.6 million times. Another employee allegedly urged the company to remove misinformation about the climate, rather than label messages with possible falsehoods.

The complaint also mentions Facebook’s Climate Science Information Center, a center for credible information on climate change that launched the platform in 2020. The mail, the complaint refers to internal records claiming that the hub’s user knowledge was “very low,” suggesting it may not have had its intended reach. Last year, Meta tried to bolster its Climate Science Information Center with additional quizzes, videos and facts. A study conducted months later found that climate change denial has become even more widespread on the platform.

The second complaint alleges that Facebook’s promise to fight disinformation about COVID-19 was inconsistent with its actions. According to The mail, the complaint cites an internal document showing a 20 percent increase in disinformation in April 2020, as well as a May 2020 record in which employees point to the presence of hundreds of anti-quarantine groups. Last July, President Joe Biden accused Facebook and other social platforms of “killing people” with misinformation about COVID-19 and its vaccines.

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Haugen leaked a large number of internal Facebook documents – dubbed the Facebook Papers – to the… Wall Street Journal last year. She has since testified before Congress to discuss potential changes to Section 230, the law that protects websites from legal liability for illegal content that users may post.

Meta and the SEC did not immediately respond to The edge‘s request for comment.

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