Former TV host sues Facebook over climate fact checks

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A former Fox Business News host who works with denial groups is suing Facebook Inc. for fact-checking his videos on global warming.

John Stossel claimed that Facebook had defamed and harmed him financially, “including in the form of reduced distribution of his stories, reduced viewership and reduced profits from the news. advertising revenue generated by the hearing, “according to the lawsuit in federal court.

Stossel has posted a number of videos on Facebook that raise doubts about climate change and promote conservative causes. He claims more than $ 2 million in damages because fact checks “exposed him to hatred, contempt, ridicule and / or shame, and discouraged others from associating or associating. deal with him, “according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the US District. Northern District Court of California.

At issue, two videos that Facebook fact checkers described as inaccurate and misleading. In one, entitled “Are we doomed?” », Stossel presents a group of researchers who minimize climate risks and humanity’s contribution to rising temperatures. This is an event he moderated at the Heartland Institute, which has received funding from fossil fuel companies and groups that oppose climate regulations.

In another video, titled “Government-fueled fires,” Stossel mentions climate change and its effects on forest fires, but places primary responsibility on forest management. In the lawsuit, Stossel says the video shouldn’t have been called misleading because he acknowledged that global warming plays a role in wildfires, even though the video points to government policies.

Facebook uses independent fact-checking organizations to rate a small amount of content on its platform. One of these fact checkers, Climate Feedback, is made up of climatologists who specialize in sea level rise, extreme weather conditions and carbon dioxide emissions.

The group found that some of Stossel’s claims are based on “chosen” information and that his videos make “several inaccurate claims and use imprecise language that misleads viewers about the scientific understanding of climate change.”

“These claims must withstand scrutiny from other scientists, who assess new evidence in the context of previous studies and may attempt to replicate the work or confirm or reject the results in other ways,” wrote Climate Feedback in its fact-checking. “In contrast, with rare exceptions, bloggers against the grain of the climate do not conduct their own research or submit properly written accounts of their findings to academic journals, thereby avoiding the review process by scholars. peers. “

A Facebook spokesperson said that “the case is without merit, and we will vigorously defend ourselves against the allegations.”

Whatever its legal merits, Stossel’s complaint highlights just how lucrative Facebook posts can be when they challenge climate change and promote other conservative views. Stossel earns $ 10,000 a month in advertisements for his Facebook videos, according to the lawsuit.

Stossel, who has 1 million followers on Facebook, has created more than 400 videos, which are usually a few minutes long. They have names like “Get off my property!” “,” Roundabouts are Better “,” Green Tyranny: Propaganda “and” Thanks to Fossil Fuels “.

After fact-checking, which cut the distribution of all of its videos, its revenue was cut by almost half, says Stossel. Its video of the wildfire initially received 1.2 million views, but after verification, it received almost none, the lawsuit says. Fact-checking will continue to hurt his earnings, Stossel says, as he planned to repost video of the fire and get 1 million more views.

The lawsuit comes at a time when Facebook has received widespread criticism for allowing climate misinformation to spread on its platform. In response, Facebook has made it easier for users to find peer-reviewed climate science.


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