EMails: Facebook Sics its “Independent Fact Checker” on Disfavored Speech
Facebook, Google, WaPo All Seek to Cancel Climate Realism
Facebook alerts activist “fact-checkers” to “insanely viral” Stossel video
Taxpayer-financed institutions assisting
Readers may have noticed a recent flurry of headlines such as “Google, YouTube, and the Climate Inquisition” and “Washington Post Wants Facebook to Shut Down PJ Media and Others for ‘Climate Denial’”. You might even have received a notice from Facebook that you have been exposed to “climate disinformation” and warned to take appropriate precaution.
These are the latest iterations of the “fact checking” genre. Censorship over COVID claims seems to be merely an excuse to scratch a much bigger itch. Emails obtained under state open records laws show that this expansion is increasingly ominous and being underwritten at least in part by the taxpayer.
What’s going on is a campaign to drum climate-realism from the public square. After decades of doomsaying, the climate movement still cannot overcome popular skepticism of enacting an energy rationing agenda grounded in climate alarm. This is despite establishment media having historically dismissed one side in the “climate” science and policy debates while engaging in full-throated advocacy on behalf of another.
This censorship began to escalate relevantly recently. In 2018, former Democratic Senate staffer and current “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd said he would not give any air time to “climate deniers.” The Los Angeles Times banned letters to the editor from those skeptical of a climate emergency. BBC joined in. That, too, wasn’t enough. So, recently, Google announced “it will now prevent ads and monetization supporting content that questions climate change alarmism. This includes YouTube.”
Late last year, Facebook entered into agreement with an “independent fact-checker”, called “Climate Feedback”. “Nick Clegg, the social media giant’s vice president for global affairs and communications, noted that Facebook “reduces distribution of posts that its third-party fact-checkers say are false.”
“Who conducts the sweeps? Apparently Facebook. One Climate Feedback email asking participants for comment, for example, opens with “Facebook reached out to Climate Feedback to alert us about a video by John Stossel that is going insanely viral right now (with 24 million views already just 5 hours after being published).””
Top targets for cancelation are the “Skeptical Environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg, former Obama Department of Energy Chief Scientist and CalTech Provost Steve Koonin, and eco-realist Michael Shellenberger. John Stossel and PragerU also have prompted mobilization of the censors, leading Stossel to sue, claiming the effort to silence went too far, and extended into defamation.
Climate Feedback originated, naturally, at a university (the University of California at Davis). A quick scan of its “fact checks” revealed numerous public employees using their taxpayer-financed institutions in this way, on behalf of an ideologically activist movement, one now dedicated to clearing the field of wrong-think to at long last enable political adoption of an agenda that elected representatives. Governmental transparency group Energy Policy Advocates requested correspondence to shed light on this use of public institutions.
Productions from several universities provide insight on the process, revealing a bit about how these things work, and the mindset involved.
“We have reported our findings to Facebook. Any user that interacted with the article will be notified.”
“Misinformation has been reported to Facebook.”
CF’s recruiter of posts approached allies stating, “I am a science editor at Climate Feedback, a global coalition of scientists working to improve the accuracy of climate media coverage by providing experts’ feedback to readers, journalists and tech platforms.” Her email tagline is “We’re working with Facebook to identify and counter misinformation – evaluations by scientists are essential to this process. When content is identified as false or misleading, your contribution will provide feedback to all users who have interacted with it. You can see an example of inaccurate content flagged by us here.”
These productions reflect a combination of basic speech policing — attend to what you see while walking the beat — even down to broken windows enforcement: don’t even let Climate 101 statements be uttered without a response:
…complement it with regular raids of known haunts for usual suspects and any other newcomers (these clearly include PragerU and WSJ), and you’ve got a privatized Climate Speech Police.
Who conducts the sweeps? Apparently Facebook. One email asking CF participants for comment, for example, opens with “Facebook reached out to Climate Feedback to alert us about a video by John Stossel that is going insanely viral right now (with 24 million views already just 5 hours after being published).”
While certainly of interest to Stossel and his lawyers as they explore how the alleged defamation came about, this also raises Section 230 issues for Facebook which arguably is involved in developing, not merely moderating, the content.
Humorously, a recent UCLA production revealed a new sensitivity among certain CF participants: the worry about the increasingly doomsday tenor of articles discouraging interest in taking “climate action”. The correspondence suggested, rather hilariously, that skeptics are behind this (even as the author cited to well-known alarmists like Eric Holthaus as exemplar of the offenders).
“the rumblings I’ve been hearing about an organized disinformation campaign to attack climate science/action from the opposite site–spreading hopelessness and doom-driven apathy instead of climate denial or trivialization”.
Sounds just like the (possibly apocryphal) “weepers” who, before Paris fell, would ride the Metro trains visibly despairing, to discourage the populace. Really, there’s nothing skeptics can’t do. Such omnipotent voices must be silenced.
It isn’t all amusing. As Tim Black wrote recently in his piece for Spiked, “How the climate lobby crushed debate,” “Anyone who dissents from stringent climate policies will be branded an enemy of The Science.” And chased from the public square.
This is not merely troubling but dangerous. It is even reckless, given how we already see courts letting “climate” vandals walk from accountability by claiming the ‘necessity’ defense. “Oh, that was just a coal train…” “That was just a facility…” And, after all, well, climate change.
Such enabling of industrial sabotage will only breed more, of course, and makes future harm to individuals seem all but certain: alarmist claims are not limited to climate is taking property, and so taking property is acceptable as necessary. The claims are quite expressly that catastrophic man-made climate change is killing tens of thousands! With millions more if bad people aren’t stopped! Possibly force-feeding a party line isn’t the best idea?
Media outlets should allow more not less of what is an actual and quite fierce debate over climate instead of the increasingly orchestrated diet of ‘we all agree it’s catastrophic, our [psst: THEIR!] fault, and getting worse‘.
And yet, a new era of censorship is clearly underway, with the objective of silencing political opposition and funded in part by the same taxpayers being targeted.