Earth Day is coming up next week, and to mark the event, Facebook is adding some new volunteer features to promote community participation, as well as new data that underlines the need for increased action on improving climate change awareness.
As per Facebook:
“Earth Day marks the anniversary of the start of the environmental movement that began in 1970. Today, we need to address global challenges like the climate crisis. We believe that connecting people with credible and creative content can help them learn more about an issue and inspire them to get involved.”
Underlining the need for education, Facebook recently conducted a survey in more than 30 countries, in partnership with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, which revealed that more than three-quarters of people now believe that climate change is happening, “but fewer understand it is caused mostly by human activities”.
In addition, some 60% of respondents indicated that they want more information about climate change.
Facebook has been working to provide more tools on this front, via its Climate Science Information Center and new informational labels on climate-related posts, which direct users to further, credible information sources.
That, ideally, will help to dispel some of the misinformation around the issue – though Facebook has also been criticized for allowing such counter-narratives to proliferate, even explicitly so, at times, via its policies.
Last July, a report found that Facebook had reversed its fact-check labels on some climate-related posts because it was asked to by a Republican congressman in the US. A month earlier, Facebook was also found to be allowing many climate denial posts to remain up on its platforms by tagging such as ‘opinion’, thus making it ineligible for fact checks.
Given this, Facebook itself has played a part in fueling climate skepticism, so hopefully, this renewed focus, based on these new findings, will see Facebook take more action to combat debunked claims about the issue.
In addition to this, Facebook’s launching volunteer sign-ups, in order to make it easier for organizations to find volunteers, and for people to sign up for opportunities on Facebook.
“Starting in a few cities, people will be able to use Community Help to find nearby opportunities like planting trees in a park or picking up trash off a beach. People can also start drives to collect and donate essential items, such as food and clothes, which are some of the main contributors to landfill waste.”
That, ideally, will help volunteer organizations better mobilize people behind their causes, using Facebook’s reach to connect them with a wider pool of interested people.
Given the varying narratives around climate change stemming from Facebook, it’s difficult to hold the platform forward as a champion of the cause, as such, but it is working to promote climate awareness, and use its reach to improve knowledge sharing.
Maybe, skepticism will always exist, and Facebook’s scale means that it will always facilitate at least some of that discussion, so there’s not much more it can do to quell counter-science movements. But then again, as noted, the platform has, seemingly, endorsed such, at different times, due to political concerns.
So it’s a bit here and there – but Facebook is, once again, looking to promote relevant causes for Earth Day, while the company also says that it’s meeting its own renewable energy and emissions targets.
PR push or genuine concern? It’s largely in the eye of the beholder at this stage.
Facebook has also shared this listing of ways that people can contribute on Earth Day.