Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Google YouTube climate denial

Extinction Rebellion activists protesting outside Google's London offices on October 16, 2019 demand social media companies do more to fight climate change denial. (Photo: Ollie Millington/Getty Images)

Senate Dems Tell Facebook, Google CEOs to Fulfill Pledges to End Spread of Climate Disinformation

"Despite years of rhetoric to the contrary, your companies have not only allowed climate disinformation to flourish on your platforms, but have profited from it."

Jessica Corbett

A trio of Democratic U.S. senators on Tuesday sent a letter demanding that the CEOs of Facebook and Google follow through on their promises to stop the spread of climate disinformation on their platforms.

"Disinformation that downplays the crisis or rejects climate change threatens the potential for humankind to act collectively to pull itself back from the brink."

"The climate crisis poses an existential threat," states the letter from Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Highlighting United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres' August warning that the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings are "a code red for humanity," the letter declares that "we need drastic action to prevent the most catastrophic effects of the climate crisis, including significant changes to global food, energy, and water infrastructure."

"Disinformation that downplays the crisis or rejects climate change threatens the potential for humankind to act collectively to pull itself back from the brink," the letter adds. "Your content moderation decisions can either galvanize an effort to save our plant or quash it."

Along with outlining recent pledges from Facebook and Google to address climate disinformation, Whitehouse, Warren, and Schatz emphasize that it "remains a persistent problem" on both platforms.

The senators cite a November report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), which revealed that 10 "superpolluter" publishers not only "account for 69% of interactions on climate denial Facebook posts" but also "earned $3.6 million in advertising revenue from Google in the last six months."

"Despite years of rhetoric to the contrary, your companies have not only allowed climate disinformation to flourish on your platforms, but have profited from it," says the letter. "As the climate crisis worsens, it is essential that Facebook and Google make good on their commitments to combat climate disinformation on their platforms."

"We ask that Google remove the eight of 10 toxic sites on AdSense and that Facebook refuse to profit from publishers that are major spreaders of climate denial," the letter continues, referencing the publishers targeted in the November report. "Further, we ask that Facebook do what it said it would do six months ago and comprehensively label climate denial."

After asserting that the Big Tech firms must "take responsibility for their role" in the planetary emergency and "immediately pledge to stop profiting from the misery" that comes with global heating, the letter concludes by saying the senators would welcome further discussion about how both companies "can be constructive partners in the fight against climate disinformation and climate change."

The senators' call for action came less than a week after a new CCDH report detailed how Google "has broken its promise to stop running ads on climate denial content."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Utterly Shameless': Former Democratic Senators Join Fossil Fuel Lobby Group

"This is climate denial and shameful bullshit," scoffed one scientist. "Also the future for Manchin and Sinema."

Brett Wilkins ·


'When You Don't Change People's Lives, People Get Upset,' Says AOC

To reverse slump in Democratic approval ratings, the congresswoman said Biden should start by cancelling student loan debt.

Julia Conley ·


Sioux Tribe Withdraws as Cooperating Agency Over Dakota Access Pipeline Threat

"The prospect of an oil spill during such low water is truly scary," says the tribe's Water Resources Department administrator.

Jessica Corbett ·


New Report Shows How US Transportation System 'Fuels Inequality'

Favoring cars over public transit has "consequences for racial and economic justice, the environment, and more," the Institute for Policy Studies warns.

Brett Wilkins ·


Gas Stoves Even Worse for Climate, Health Than Previously Thought

New study shows methane leaks from U.S. gas-burning stoves have a climate impact comparable to emissions from about 500,000 cars.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo