Facebook whistleblower alleges company misled investors on climate, COVID-19 misinformation

A Washington Post report initially reported two new SEC lawsuits filed by Whistleblower Aid, representing Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. The lawsuits accuse Facebook, now Meta, of deceiving investors about its efforts to combat climate change and COVID-19 falsehoods.

The first complaint, acquired by The Washington Post, states that there is freely available climate change misinformation on Facebook, contradicting Facebook assurances that it is combating climate denial. It also includes internal memos outlining individuals’ own experiences on the site with climate-related misinformation.

An employee reported finding a video that promoted “climate change”, as the second result, when searching for “climate change”, in the Watch tab. The video in question has reportedly garnered 6.6 million views. Another employee allegedly urged the company to remove fake information on climate change, rather than merely label posts with potential falsehoods.

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The lawsuit also highlights Facebook’s Climate Science Information Center, founded in 2020 as a repository for reliable climate change information. According to The Washington Post, the complaint cites internal data claiming “very low” user knowledge of the hub, implying it may not have reached its core demographic. The Climate Science Information Center gained new quizzes, videos, and facts last year. Several months later, research showed that climate change denial was even more prominent on the site.

The second lawsuit claims that Facebook failed to fulfill its promise to address COVID-19 falsehoods. The complaint cites an internal document showing a 20% spike in misinformation in April 2020, as well as a May 2020 record in which employees note the presence of hundreds of anti-quarantine groups, according to The Washington Post. President Joe Biden condemned Facebook and other social media platforms for “killing people” by spreading false information about COVID-19 and its immunizations in July.

Meta spokesperson Drew Pusateri said, “We’ve directed over 2 billion individuals to authoritative public health information and continue to eliminate incorrect claims about vaccines, conspiracy theories, and disinformation.” “Stopping the spread of disinformation does not have a one-size-fits-all solution, but we are developing new tools and rules to prevent it.”