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Whistle-blower takes on Meta over climate change, Covid misinformation

The non-profit organisation that represents Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has filed two new complaints against Meta (formerly Facebook), accusing the social network of misleading investors about its efforts to tackle misinformation about climate change and Covid-19. Photo: File

The non-profit organisation that represents Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has filed two new complaints against Meta (formerly Facebook), accusing the social network of misleading investors about its efforts to tackle misinformation about climate change and Covid-19. Photo: File

Published Feb 21, 2022

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The non-profit organisation that represents Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen has filed two new complaints against Meta (formerly Facebook), accusing the social network of misleading investors about its efforts to tackle misinformation about climate change and Covid-19.

The two complaints have been filed in the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) complaints by Whistle-blower Aid, reports The Washington Post.

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The first complaint alleged the presence of readily available climate change misinformation on Facebook, making Facebook's claims that it's fighting climate denial fall flat.

It also contains internal documents detailing employees' own experiences with climate-related falsehoods on the platform.

Climate denial on Facebook has gotten even worse this year, according to a new study led by climate advocacy group Stop Funding Heat and the Real Facebook Oversight Board.

The second complaint alleged Facebook's promise to combat Covid-19 misinformation didn't align with its actions.

According to The Post, the complaint cites an internal document showing a 20 per cent increase in misinformation in April 2020, as well as a May 2020 record in which employees point out the presence of hundreds of anti-quarantine groups.

Last year, US President Joe Biden accused Facebook and other social platforms of "killing people" with misinformation about Covid-19 and its vaccines, reports The Verge.

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"There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to stopping the spread of misinformation, but we're committed to building new tools and policies to combat it," said Meta spokesperson Drew Pusateri in a statement.

Facebook whistle-blower Haugen said earlier this month that Meta deliberately provides less help, reporting of online abuse, and safety on its Facebook platform to save on costs for people living outside of the US.

Speaking to Australia's Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety, Haugen testified that Facebook takes down the "bare minimum" when it comes to harmful content.

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Much like Haugen's previous appearances before governments from other jurisdictions, she continued to flag the core issues with the Facebook platform as being its algorithms that push extreme content and its decision to allow a higher rate of inappropriate content to remain.

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