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After Facebook told the Washington Post last week it has no obligation to determine whether the the information posted on its platform is true, climate scientist Michael Mann said Facebook is a "big obstacle to averting climate catastrophe."

Climate Change

Michael Mann Slams Facebook, Calls It “Biggest Obstacle To Averting Climate Change”

After Facebook told the Washington Post last week it has no obligation to determine whether the the information posted on its platform is true, climate scientist Michael Mann said Facebook is a “big obstacle to averting climate catastrophe.”

“When it comes to efforts to avert catastrophic climate change, Facebook is no ally. They are an enemy,” climate scientist Michael Mann tells Think Progress. Mann’s scathing words came in the wake of Facebook’s astonishing admission that it isn’t concerned with whether or not the information people post on the social media site is actually true.

Last week, a faked video portraying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as drunk and slurring her words went viral on Facebook, which refused to take the offensive video down even after it admitted the video was a fraud. Contacted for an explanation by the Washington Post, a spokesperson for Facebook made this extraordinary statement. “We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information you post on Facebook must be true.” (Emphasis added.)

Monika Bickert, the company’s head of global policy management, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday. “We think it’s important for people to make their own informed choice about what to believe. Our job is to make sure that we are getting them accurate information. And that’s why we work with over 50 fact-checking organizations around the world.”

Okay, riddle us this, Bickert. How do your weasel words explain how the video could possibly be “accurate information” if your company has already determined the video is a fake? And why have “50 fact-checking organizations around the world,” if you are going to ignore what they tell you? In other words, what you said is 100% Grade A bullshit.

“We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians,” Pelosi said in an interview with California radio station KQED on Wednesday. “I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false. I think it’s wrong. I can take it. But [Facebook is] lying to the public.”

The Guardian sums the situation up well. “The viral success of the crudely produced video highlights the challenges in fighting online disinformation when individuals are willing to share material that backs their own political views, even when it is accompanied by warnings.”

It reported last year,”Russia-backed content reached as many as 126 million Americans on Facebook during and after the 2016 presidential election, according to the company’s prepared testimony submitted to the Senate judiciary committee before hearings this week. Facebook believes 120 fake Russian-backed pages created 80,000 posts that were received by 29 million Americans directly, but reached a much bigger audience by users sharing, liking and following the posts.”

In other words, Facebook should have a warning at the top of every page, “CAUTION: Everything you see here on Fakebook may be a lie, a distortion of the truth, or an outright fraud and we are proud to be bringing this crap to you thanks to the enormous profits we make by making this false information available to you.” The greed of Mark Zuckerturd and his toadies knows no bounds, apparently.

Facebook Addiction

In a corollary, psychologists this week have released a study showing many people, especially students, can develop what they call “Facebook addiction.” According to Julia Brailovskaia at the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, “Our findings have shown that there is a positive relationship between the severity of daily stress, the intensity of Facebook engagement, and the tendency to develop a pathological addiction to the social networking site,” concludes At the same time, this effect is reduced if users receive support by family and friends in real life. Individuals who don’t experience much support offline are most at risk of developing a Facebook addition.”

She and her colleagues say addiction symptoms include users spending more and more time on Facebook, a preoccupation with Facebook all the time and feelings of uneasiness when they can’t engage with the network online. Their behavior affects their lives offline and may trap them in a vicious circle. “This aspect has to be taken into consideration when treating a person with a pathological addition — or suspected pathological addition — to Facebook,” says the psychologist.

The Double Standard

The US government gets into a total flopping fit about tweets from Elon Musk but when Facebook says it has no intention of investigating the truth of what people post — even if it influences elections — it couldn’t care less. “Nothing to see here. Move along,” seems to be the official attitude.

Just wait until it emerges that a troll farm in Iceland helped get Bernie Sanders elected in 2020. The Repugnicrats will fall all over themselves to pass laws regulating what Facebook can and cannot post. Bet on it.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else the Singularity may lead him. You can follow him on Twitter but not on any social media platforms run by evil overlords like Facebook.

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