Will Facebook Ban Deniers?
Breitbart brought our attention to a petition that calls on Facebook to ban climate change denial pages. With only 3,326 signatories out of a goal of 500,000, it doesn’t seem like the petition is going to accomplish its goal—and probably for good reason.
As bad as climate denial is, shutting them out of Facebook would justify their persecution complex, and might engender more sympathy for their position. Really, who treats Facebook as a place to discuss science? For the most part, we think denier groups are small enough that they pretty much serve as something to point and laugh at, because they’re not likely to be gain many converts when compared to the audience of Murdoch’s media empire.
That said, the petition actually has a point. Facebook doesn’t have too many rules, but the very last one reads that, “Pages must not contain false, misleading, fraudulent or deceptive claims or content.”
The question then, is whether or not claims that say global warming has stopped and an ice age is imminent, that climate scientists are fudging the data, or that Climategate showed wrongdoing would all fall under false, misleading and deceptive claims. We don’t know what else you would call them, so perhaps a ban would be warranted after all.
Though surprising, Facebook wouldn’t be the first social media site to crack down on climate deniers. In 2013, the science page of the social media giant reddit announced that any claims contradicting the consensus on climate change, evolution and vaccines must be supported by a peer-reviewed citation. Given that climate denial is almost never peer-reviewed, this resulted in a de facto ban on posts from climate change deniers.
Will Facebook follow suit? Probably not. But under their rules, it sounds like they could.
Sidenote: in the same Climate NEXUS issue, this is what they claim are “respectful” suggestions for the next Heartland conference