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February 19, 2021 Friday 04:42:05 PM IST

Cambridge psychologist helps Facebook fight climate change misinformation

International Edu News

Facebook has sought the help of experts on anti-environment propaganda, including a Cambridge psychologist, to improve their Climate Science Information Centre and help more of the platform’s almost three billion monthly users find the latest accurate climate science data.  

Dr Sander van der Linden is one of three experts on behaviour and communication to have been drafted in by the social media giant to advise on how best to debunk the toxic myths about global heating that spread like wildfire on digital platforms such as Facebook.

Along with academics from Yale and George Mason universities, Van der Linden has helped Facebook to expand its digital Centre, which connects its users with vetted, proven research from the world’s leading climate change organisations, including the UN Environment programme.

Van der Linden and colleagues worked with teams at Facebook to design the most effective types of communication for the platform’s misinformation debunking initiative, including a section that challenges damaging climate change myths, such as the belief that global warming is just part of a natural cycle of temperature fluctuation, and that more atmospheric carbon dioxide greens the planet.    

Already available in the US and parts of Europe, today also marks Facebook’s expansion of their Climate Science Information Centre’s availability to other major nations including Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Spain.  

In an article published in Facebook’s Newsroom, the company contends that fighting climate change starts with “fighting the misinformation around it”.  In an additional UK-specific trial, Facebook says it will automatically label posts containing climate change misinformation with one of several tags that not only direct users to the new Centre, but issue them with a short corrective message – such as the fact that 97% of the world’s scientific community are in agreement about the threat of global heating.

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