Facebook's new Fact-Checking policies have carved out an exemption for climate deniers

The CO2 Coalition is a non-profit climate denial organization with deep pockets supported by the Mercers, the Kochs, and other conservative fossil fuel financial interests. Despite the demonstrable unreality of its mission, the CO2 Coalition has already found favor in the White House.

In August 2019, they posted an op-ed on Facebook from the Washington Examiner that was written by a known climate denier and disguised itself as legitimate and factual reporting about climate change. As Judd Legum's Popular Information Newsletter explained:

The article claimed computer models used by climate scientists to predict warming have proved overblown, and thus shouldn't be trusted. To prove it, Michaels compared "actual temperatures since 1979 with what the 32 families of climate models used in the latest U.N. report on climate science predicted they would be."

The comparison was flawed. Michaels compared the earth's present temperature with past climate models that predicted more carbon pollution than actually occurred. If we had polluted as much as the models predicted, the world would have warmed as much as the models predicted.

We know this because actual climate scientists have published research assessing the accuracy of climate models. […] Michaels' analysis, on the other hand, didn't go through any peer-review process, nor is Michaels climate scientist himself. What Michaels did was amateur Google sleuthing. What the scientists did was science.

Regardless, the post was shared more than 2,000 times before it was removed by Facebook's Independent Fact-checkers.

Then, according to E&E News:

A "conservative" Facebook employee quietly intervened, overturning the fact check, and the misinformation was no longer labeled as false, according to the CO2 Coalition. The post was free to be shared, and a new loophole was created for the coalition and other groups that attack mainstream climate science.

After the quiet decision by Facebook, the coalition says it and other groups that attack consensus climate science can share content that climate scientists have labeled as misleading because Facebook will consider it "opinion" and therefore immune to fact-checking.

This also meant that the CO2 Coalition was briefly disallowed from buying ads on Facebook after the fact-check, but that swiftly changed as well. "We're kind of like Donald Trump," CO2 Coalition Executive Director Caleb Rossiter told E&E News. "We're not happy with the treatment we're getting from the mainstream media, we resort to social media. That's where our action is in larger part."

Once again, Zuckerberg's spinelessness has allowed Facebook to be hijacked into a propaganda tool for conservative business interests with no basis in reality. And all they had to do was play the victim card. This strategy fits in with decades of carbon industry PR tactics, and it's a shame that it keeps working, all because a few insanely wealthy people would rather shovel their millions into public deceit than find another way to make a profit without wrecking the planet in the process.

How CO2 boosters' op-ed slipped by Facebook fact-checkers [Scott Waldman / E&E News]

Facebook creates fact-checking exemption for climate deniers [Judd Legum / Popular Information]

Image: Edward Kimmel / Flickr (CC 2.0)