Facebook opened up a fact-checking loophole for a politically-connected climate denial group to allow it to promote its misinformation on the platform, E&E reported.
Last fall, with help from a “conservative” Facebook employee, the Koch- and Mercer-funded CO2 Coalition successfully got the social media platform to remove the “False” rating on their op-ed published in the Washington Examiner to instead have it categorized as “opinion” so that the fact check rules do not apply to it.
The op-ed, which claimed computer models used by climate scientists to predict warming have proved overblown, was “complete bullshit,” Andrew Dessler, one of the five climate scientists who originally fact-checked the article, told Heated and Public Information.
“We gave it a bad review, which it 100 percent deserved.” Exempting “opinion” articles from fact-checking means that even the most basic quality controls are not applied — Facebook bars materials marked as ‘false’ from being promoted with paid advertising, a restriction the opinion label lifts. “It’s a powerful way to misinform people,” Dessler told E&E. “These groups can’t win in the actual scientific arena, so they only can win in these media environments where they can pay to promote stuff.”