Pinterest bans false and misleading climate-related content
In what it claims is the first for a major social media platform, Pinterest has introduced new guidelines aimed at ending the circulation of climate-related misinformation.
Announced on Wednesday (6 April), the changes mean that Pinterest will remove content that “denies the existence or impacts of climate change, the human influence on climate change, or that climate change is backed by scientific consensus”.
False or misleading information about climate solutions, and content that misrepresents data and reports from climate scientists, will also be removed.
Additionally, “harmful” false or misleading content around natural disasters and extreme weather events will no longer be allowed on Pinterest. These rules will apply to advertisements and to content that users post for free on their personal accounts. Users seeing content that breaches these rules are encouraged to report it to Pinterest.
Pinterest is using learnings from its existing bans on political advertisements, weight-loss advertisements and health misinformation – including conspiracy theories relating to Covid-19 – to enact the new climate misinformation rules. The platform has more than 431 million monthly active users, having reported its biggest year-on-year increase in use between 2020 and 2021.
As well as using its own learnings, the firm will be working with the Climate Disinformation Coalition and the Conscious Advertising Network to help deliver against the new policies and to develop them over time, based on emerging trends in misinformation.
“Pinterest believes in cultivating a space that’s trusted and truthful for those using our platform,” said the firm’s head of policy Sarah Bromma. “ This bold move is an expansion of our broader misinformation guidelines, which we first developed in 2017 to address public health misinformation, and have since updated to address new and emerging issues as they come to the forefront. The expanded climate misinformation policy is yet another step in Pinterest’s journey to combat misinformation and create a safe space online.”
Challenges cracking down on climate misinformation
In the digital age, more and more people are getting their information, analysis and opinions regarding environmental issues online. As such, social media platforms are under increasing pressure to tackle climate misinformation.
Research published by Stop Funding Heat and the Real Facebook Oversight Board last November found that climate misinformation on Facebook attracts between 818,000 and 1.36 million views on the platform each day. This is far higher than the average number of daily visits made to Facebook’s Climate Science Centre, an initiative launched in 2020 to provide access to factual climate information.
Shortly after that research was published, US-based nonprofit Avaaz released a report outlining how a small cohort of publishers are producing most of the most popular climate misinformation content on Facebook. This cohort includes the likes of PragerU and Turning Point USA. Avaaz also levelled similar criticisms at Google.
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