Chris White Tech Reporter
January 30, 2020 12:42 PM ET
Democratic Florida Rep. Kathy Castor is getting pushback from climate skeptics after she asked Google on Monday to nix content on YouTube that takes a skeptical approach to United Nations’ climate models.
Castor asked CEO Sundar Pichai in a Jan. 27 letter not to incentivize “climate misinformation content on its platform.” She made the request after a Jan. 16 report from a nonprofit group suggested it found examples where YouTube’s algorithms promoted so-called climate denialism.
“Stop promoting climate denial and climate disinformation videos by removing them immediately from the platform’s recommendation algorithm,” the Florida Democrat wrote in a list of suggestions to Pichai.
Castor also asked the CEO to stop “monetizing” such content.
The report, published by AVAAZ, hits several pieces of content, including a 2018 Fox News interview with climate scientist Patrick Michaels, who explained why 31 of 32 climate models are “fudged” by design. Michaels worked as a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute until 2019.
AVAAZ argued this claim, and one he made suggesting only half of global warming might be caused by human activity, contained misinformation. (RELATED: Exclusive: Facebook Removed False Label After Scientists Said Climate ‘Alarmist’ Fact Checkers Are Targeting Them)
“Half of the warming since 1976 is plausible and in line with the IPCC which says ‘more than half the warming since mid-century,’” Michaels told the Daily Caller News Foundation in defense of his claims.
He was referencing data from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
He added: “That’s post 1950 but there was no warming from 50 through 75. All the warming is post 1975 and the U.N. statement accommodates 51% which sure looks like a half.”
Other climate skeptics are also weighing in on Castor’s request, as well as the report that prompted the congresswoman’s letter.
Michaels experienced a similar incident in September 2019, when Facebook deemed claims he and another scientist made in a Washington Examiner editorial false. The tech company eventually removed the label after Michaels argued their points in a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook exempted opinion content and political advocacy organizations from the social media giant’s independent fact-checking efforts in October of that year after the DCNF’s report highlighting Michaels’s complaints.
“Instead of engaging in open debate with climate skeptics, Rep. Castor just wants to shut us up. I can only imagine what her side would do to us if they had real power,” JunkScience founder Steve Milloy told The Washington Times on Wednesday, two days after Castor sent her letter.
Climate Depot founder Marc Morano accused the Democrat of trying to silence skeptics.
“Sadly, I expect YouTube to cave and continue its policies of clamping down on climate skeptics and those who oppose so-called solutions like the Green New Deal or U.N. Paris climate pact,” he told The Washington Times. “YouTube has already initiated policies that amount to climate ‘virtue signaling’ with their disclaimers.”
Castor has not responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.
“We can’t speak to Avaaz’s methodology or results, and our recommendations systems are not designed to filter or demote videos or channels based on specific perspectives,” a YouTube representative said in a statement addressing AVAAZ’s report.