Pinterest rolls out new climate misinformation policy

A notice board in the shape of a foot, by the sea, which reads ‘Only leave your foot prints’

Today, Pinterest is rolling out a new climate misinformation policy to keep false and misleading claims around climate change off the platform. The new policy, created with advice from CAN, makes Pinterest the only major digital platform to have clearly defined guidelines against false or misleading climate change information, including conspiracy theories, across content and ads.

As part of its community guidelines on misinformation and disinformation, Pinterest’s new climate misinformation policy removes content that may harm the public’s well-being, safety or trust, including:

  • 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 content about climate change solutions that contradict well-established scientific consensus.
  • Content that misrepresents scientific data, including by omission or cherry-picking, in order to erode trust in climate science and experts.
  • Harmful false or misleading content about public safety emergencies including natural disasters and extreme weather events.

Pinterest has also updated its advertising guidelines to explicitly prohibit any ads containing conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation related to climate change.

In CAN’s open letter, published on November 9th 2021, we called for UNFCCC, the COP26 Presidency and the tech platforms to adopt a common definition for climate misinformation. This definition was crafted by over 20 climate and disinformation experts and was supported by Laurence Tubiana, CEO of European Climate Foundation and a key architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy, COP20 President, Former Minister of Environment for Peru, Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics and Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, for which the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project to name but a few. The letter also made five key asks of the tech platforms covering community standards, the ad platform, on platform tools, communication to users and transparency. Pinterest is going even further on their community standards by removing climate misinformation.

CAN has never called for de-platforming, and we too, grapple with the line between freedom of speech and freedom to harm. That said, all media owners have a duty of care to protect users and society at large from imminent harm, and there is evidence that the threshold is now being crossed. In the IPCC report released on the 28th February, Hans-Otto Pörtner, a co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC says clearly “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” And yet, within the IPCC report the “growth in misinformation” is called out as an attempt “to maintain the status quo by actors in positions of power in the face of rising social inertia for climate action.” Three months earlier at COP 26, Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that a two degree rise in temperature would be a “death sentence” for island nations, due to rising sea levels and more extreme weather. With current policies, we are currently on track for 2.7–3.1 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels.

It is clear to the scientists of the IPCC that climate misinformation which delays climate action is an imminent threat to humanity to having a ‘liveable’ future.

We are delighted to see so much progress in the fight against climate misinformation. In the meantime, we would like to see all the major technology platforms publish or update their own policies to deal with the existential threat and imminent harm presented by climate misinformation.

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The Conscious Advertising Network is a voluntary coalition of over 70 organisations on a mission to stop advertising abuse. www.consciousadnetwork.org