Over the past year, Pinterest has seen jumps in some planet-friendly searches, such as "recycled home decor" and "zero waste lifestyle." (Photo: alexsl/Getty Images)

Pinterest Applauded for Plan to Combat Climate Misinformation

One campaigner said the social media company "has demonstrated great leadership" and urged other platforms to follow suit.

Amid fresh warnings from scientists about human-caused global heating, Pinterest was widely praised Wednesday for providing a model for tech giants by banning all climate misinformation across the social media platform.

"We encourage others to take note of Pinterest's efforts to reduce climate change disinformation."

Launched in 2010, Pinterest has become one of the world's most popular platforms. The online service enables users to share, save, and organize images, from home decor and lifestyle inspiration to recipes, creative projects, and travel destinations.

The company highlighted in a statement Wednesday that "our new policy makes Pinterest the only major digital platform to have clearly defined guidelines against false or misleading climate change information, including conspiracy theories, across content and ads."

Welcoming the move, Michael Khoo, climate disinformation co-chair at the advocacy group Friends of the Earth, declared that "climate disinformation on digital platforms is a serious threat to the public support needed to solve the climate crisis."

"Pinterest has demonstrated great leadership by creating a community standard that includes a definition of climate misinformation, and we will continue to press all platforms for transparency and reporting on their actions," he added. "We encourage others to take note of Pinterest's efforts to reduce climate change disinformation."

In a tweet, Khoo's group specifically called on Meta--the parent company of Facebook and Instagram--as well as TikTok, Twitter, and Google-owned YouTube to follow suit.

As part of Pinterest's newly updated community guidelines, "our climate misinformation policy removes content that may harm the public's well-being, safety, or trust," the company explained. That includes:

  • Content that denies the existence or impacts of climate change, the human influence on climate change, or that climate change is backed by scientific consensus;
  • False or misleading content about climate change solutions that contradict well-established scientific consensus;
  • Content that misrepresents scientific data, including by omission or cherry-picking, in order to erode trust in climate science and experts; and
  • Harmful false or misleading content about public safety emergencies including natural disasters and extreme weather events.

While "all ads on Pinterest always have to comply with our community guidelines," the statement noted, "we've updated our advertising guidelines to explicitly prohibit any ads containing conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation related to climate change."

"Pinterest believes in cultivating a space that's trusted and truthful for those using our platform," said Sarah Bromma, the company's head of policy.

"This bold move is an expansion of our broader misinformation guidelines, which we first developed in 2017 to address public health misinformation, and have since updated to address new and emerging issues as they come to the forefront," Bromma continued. "The expanded climate misinformation policy is yet another step in Pinterest's journey to combat misinformation and create a safe space online."

Pinterest's statement also pointed out that over the past year, the platform has seen significant jumps in some planet-friendly searches, such as "recycled home decor," "recyling clothes ideas," "zero waste lifestyle," and "zero waste tips."

Pinterest crafted its new policies with help from experts--including the Conscious Advertising Network, whose co-chair Jake Dubbins said Wednesday that "it is unequivocal that climate misinformation combined with advertising tools delays meaningful climate action."

"The Conscious Advertising Network is delighted to partner with Pinterest who is taking a genuine leadership position by publishing this robust, well-considered, and comprehensive climate misinformation policy," Dubbins added. "We look forward to the continued collaboration and call on all other tech platforms to follow Pinterest's lead."

The policy change at Pinterest comes as technology companies face rising scrutiny for refusing to fully crack down on climate misinformation in the midst of a global emergency.

As Common Dreams reported in February, despite Facebook's move last year to attach "informational labels" to some climate posts, researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found the social media giant failed to flag content from the leading publishers of climate misinformation.

"By failing to do even the bare minimum to address the spread of climate denial information," CCDH executive director Imran Ahmed said at the time, "Meta is exacerbating the climate crisis."

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