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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Weeks ago, Facebook rolled out the Climate Science and Information Center, now known more commonly as the climate change hub. The social media giant said that it created the hub to provide its users with “factual resources” about climate change. But in reality, it is just the latest example of the company moving further away from its initial goal of bringing people together and further down the partisan, divisive rabbit holes of the leftist mob.

The first red flag came when Facebook said it modeled the climate change hub after its COVID-19 one. By and large, the “facts” it has pushed within the COVID hub haven’t been facts at all. Using the corrupt and China Communist Party-influenced World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the foundations of “truth,” Facebook censored information deemed counter to WHO dictates. Facebook even censored front-line doctors and other experts who dared to dissent from the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s way of thinking, even though the WHO and CDC have gotten it wrong on COVID time and time again.


If you think that the Facebook climate change hub will be any more tolerant of competing viewpoints, it’s time to wake up. In the public launch of the Climate Science and Information Center, Facebook went out of its way to write that “climate change is real” and “the science is unambiguous and the need to act grows more urgent by the day.” These statements are ones of advocacy, not science, and tell you everything you need to know about the direction the hub will take.

So, too, does the company’s environmental “fact-checks.” Just look at Facebook’s treatment of the recent California wildfires.

As the flames continue to rage, many Facebook users have noted the truth — the state’s fires often start by incendiary devices, the most recent of which occurred from a gender-reveal party accident. This is not a controversial statement. The government has even arrested dozens of people on the West Coast for arson. But the social media giant quickly began flagging these posts because they didn’t acknowledge Facebook’s belief that climate change had a role in causing them.

That Facebook is now censoring the truth and pushing a one-sided view of environmental policy is as dangerous as it is sad. And this is far from an isolated occurrence.

Take what Facebook has done to Patrick Michaels, the American Association of State Climatologists’ former president.

Mr. Michaels believes that roughly half of the one-degree Celsius of global warming that has occurred since 1900 is natural — an opinion that even the United Nation’s Climate Change Agency shares. But Facebook labeled this information false, stating it’s “unsupported by the data and analysis of UN and U.S. government agencies.”

After receiving some pressure from the media, Facebook revised its opinion. But make no mistake about it: The company has far from learned its lesson.

Look at the censoring that Michael Shellenberger, the author of “Apocalypse Never,” has gone through. After being a climate change activist for two decades and an environmentalist for 30 years, Mr. Shellenberger recently took off his partisan lenses. In a widely reprinted article promoting his new book, which many of the world’s leading environmentalists have praised, he “[apologized] for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.” He detailed how many of his past beliefs, including how humans are causing the sixth great extinction, do not match up with the scientific evidence.

But the evidence is now damned on Facebook if it doesn’t fit with the company’s political worldview. The social media giant censored Mr. Shellenberger’s pushback on the sixth generation extinction and many other claims, despite the latest peer-reviewed science being on Mr. Shellenberger’s side. 

For two decades, the American people have been bombarded with irrational and erroneous claims of their pending environmental doom. They were told the polar ice caps would be melted by 2008, there would be no more snow by 2014, that cities would run out of water and much of New York City will be under water by 2019. None of these predictions have come true. Yet, rather than look back at what went wrong, the tech overlords have decided to censor those who question the prevailing thinking on the issue.

The purpose of science is to question the consensus, not blindly follow it. Coupled with its one-sided “fact-checking,” Facebook’s new Climate Science and Information Center appears poised to continue skewing the debate and ignoring the complexity and unsettled nature of environmental policy.

We’re at a crossroads where things don’t need to get worse. Having a censorship arm with a one-sided interpretation of the facts is a misguided move by a company that is supposed to facilitate connection and conversation.

It’s not too late to fix this mess. For the sake of public debate and informing the public, let’s hope Facebook does.

• Joe Pitts is a former U.S. congressman from Pennsylvania who served on the House Energy Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy.


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