Amid the ongoing disruption of COVID-19, the focus on addressing climate change has seemingly taken a back seat, though scientists have warned that the threat of climate disruption has not reduced, and has in fact, intensified over the last year and a half, ramping up the need for immediate and significant action.

This week, Facebook is taking up the cause, with the announcement of a range of new features designed to raise awareness about climate change impacts, while it’s also funding a new program aimed at addressing climate misinformation across its platforms.

First off, Facebook has announced the expansion of its Climate Science Information Center, which it first launched in selected countries last September as a means to connect users with accurate, timely climate information.

Facebook Climate Science Center

The hub is currently accessible in 16 countries and is accessed by more than 100,000 individuals each day, according to the company. And now Facebook wants to make it a more interesting and informative component of the platform.

According to Facebook’s explanation:

In collaboration with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we’re renaming the hub the Climate Science Center and introducing new modules such as a quiz feature that will test people’s knowledge of climate change, along with a feature that will provide people with information about climate-related crises, beginning with wildfires.

Facebook Climate Science Center update

As a result of the additional features, the experience should be more engaging overall, and more conversation and knowledge-sharing about climate change effects should be encouraged.

The changes will also make it simpler to share a lot of the material on the Center’s website, which may encourage more people to share the information with their Facebook networks, furthering the debate about such consequences.

In addition to this, Facebook is launching a new video series to spotlight young climate activists across its social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

We will recognize artists and activists who use our applications to raise awareness about climate change beginning during Climate Week, which runs from September 20-26. As part of our commitment to inspire and educate people, we will also be releasing a unique food sustainability film with Sydel Curry-Lee on Facebook Watch, showcasing a number of climate creators on Instagram, and spotlighting a number of environmental activists on Facebook.”

Exploiting the popularity of platform influencers as a means to generate more conversation about climate change and alter views via insight may be another effective strategy.

Facebook will also continue to support the ‘Say It With Science’ video series, which sees the UN Foundation and IPCC bringing together scientists and youth advocates to present the latest climate science insights.

Finally, Facebook has announced that it would spend $1 million in a new grant initiative, which will be run in collaboration with the International Fact Checking Network, to give assistance to groups trying to counter disinformation about climate change.

Our $1 million investment in this new award program will be used to assist initiatives aimed at fighting climate disinformation by forming partnerships between fact-checkers, climate experts, and other groups, according to the organization. According to climate communication specialists from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, the University of Cambridge, and Monash University, we are also adding new information to the Climate Science Center’s Facts About Climate Change area.

Which is particularly important in Facebook’s case, because while the platform has implemented a range of new initiatives to amplify accurate information, and address misinformation in posts, Facebook’s scale still sees it fueling certain movements and conspiracy theories that seek to minimize climate change impacts, or even outright deny that anything is happening on this front.

According to reports, Facebook has actually willingly participated in such at times.

Last July, a report found that Facebook had reversed its fact-check labels on some climate-related posts because it was asked to do so 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 them ineligible for fact checks.

Various climate scientists have criticized Facebook’s inaction on this front, while data shows that counter-science theories often see millions of views on the platform, helping them reach much wider audiences.

Given this, it’s important that Facebook is looking to take action, but it still has a way to go in taking a meaningful stance against climate misinformation, and addressing the role that it now plays in the dissemination of such.

The largest interconnected network of people in history can have a big influence in this respect, arguably the biggest of any one organization, and if Facebook takes a stronger stance, that could play a major role in reducing anti-climate change rhetoric, and prompting more action on this front.

You can check out Facebook’s new Climate Science Center here.