Facebook’s False Fact Check
There’s no guarantee scientific research is credible or accurate just because it has been peer-reviewed. Why is Facebook promoting this lie?
Much of what we read, online and elsewhere, is incorrect. That’s life. But Facebook, a platform that helps people socialize, thinks it’s in the business of setting the record straight. It calls this process fact checking, but its fact checkers don’t know what they’re talking about.
A story from NaturalNews.com recently appeared in my Facebook feed. I don’t consider that website a reliable source of information, but that’s beside the point. The story was titled Climate change hoax COLLAPSES as new science finds human activity has virtually zero impact on global temperatures. It begins by talking about a paper written by two Finish academics who say there’s “no experimental evidence” for the idea that humanity significantly affects the climate.
Facebook inserted two “related articles” directly after that Natural News story in my feed, describing it as “incorrect” and “false” (see the screengrab at the top of this post). The first was from ClimateFeedback.org, which talks loftily about accurate information being “the foundation of a functioning democracy.”
According to ClimateFeedback,
Some news outlets are publishing articles stating that this claim is based on a new study. In reality, there is no new published study. The claim comes from a six-page document uploaded to arXiv, a website traditionally used by scientists to make manuscripts available before publication. [my italics]
Ideas exist independently of whether or not they’ve been published somewhere. They exist even if people dismiss them as a six-page document. Peter Ratcliffe, one of three individuals who shared this year’s Nobel Prize in Medicine, had his research rejected because a reviewer didn’t think his findings were sufficiently significant.
Was his Nobel-quality research wrong just because Nature chose not to publish it? Of course not.