Pinterest announced today that it is becoming the first major digital platform to introduce a comprehensive disinformation policy designed to combat false and misleading claims about climate change on its platform. Under the company’s recently updated disinformation guidelines, Pinterest will now be able to remove content that denies the existence of climate change impacts, denies human influence on climate change, and content that denies that climate change is supported by a scientific consensus, among other things.
It will also remove false and misleading content about climate change solutions that contradicts the scientific consensus; content that misrepresents scientific data, either by omission or selective selection to erode trust in climate science and experts; and harmful and misleading content about public safety emergencies, including natural disasters and extreme weather events.
The company noted that the new community guidelines apply not only to posts on the social network, but also to ads. Pinterest advertisers will need to follow the same rules, and Pinterest’s advertising guidelines have been updated to also ban ads containing conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation related to climate change.
“Pinterest believes in cultivating a trustworthy and truthful space for those who use our platform. This bold move is an expansion of our broader guidelines on misinformation, which we first developed in 2017 to address public health misinformation and have since updated to address new and emerging issues as they arise. The expanded climate misinformation policy is another step in Pinterest’s journey to combat misinformation and create a safe space online,” said Sarah Bromma, director of policy for Pinterest, in a statement about the announcement.
The company says it relied on input from partner experts, including the Climate Disinformation Coalition and the Conscious Advertising Network, to help develop and inform its new policy decisions.
The change follows what Pinterest says has been an increase in user searches for topics related to sustainability and the environment. Over the past year, searches for “zero waste tips” have grown 6x, “recycled clothing ideas” have grown 4x, and searches for “recycled home decor” have increased 95%, while searches for “Litter-free lifestyle” increased by 64%. .
To encourage more inspiration around greener lifestyles, Pinterest will launch a series of Creator Originals content led by creators from the US, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia and India, which will focus on things like saving tips, recycling clothes, minimizing food waste, and more. It will also offer ad credits to select organizations, including Project Drawdown and the Potential Energy Coalition, the organization that powers Science Moms.
The new policy follows a heightened awareness of the role of business in combating climate change. The SEC, for example, has proposed new rules that would require companies to report how their operations impact the climate and the formation of carbon emissions. It also stepped up its requests from major tech companies for more information on climate change disclosures. Among those asking for more details were big tech companies Alphabet, Amazon, Autodesk, eBay, Meta, Intel and Salesforce. The UN also recently released a climate report that encouraged the adoption of renewable energy sources and other measures to limit the impacts of climate change.
Today’s update wouldn’t be the first time Pinterest has changed its guidelines to better align with the scientific community. In the summer of 2019, before the start of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting anti-vaccine sentiment that followed, Pinterest said it would limit vaccine-related search results to authoritative sources, including major public health organizations. like the World Health Organization. (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In previous years, he had blocked anti-vaccine content to prevent the spread of conspiracies. In 2020, it also launched authoritative search results for Covid-19.
More broadly, Pinterest has taken other proactive steps to make its network a more positive place. For example, in 2016, it banned ads for sensitive content, including culturally appropriate and inappropriate costumes. It also stopped running political ads in 2018 and launched a compassionate search for people seeking mental health support in 2019.
Of course, updating a content policy and enforcing it are two different things.
Pinterest says it will use a variety of methods to find and take action on ads that violate its new climate change policy, including a combination of automated systems and moderator investigations. It says Pinterest’s Trust & Safety team will also review user reports of infringing content, such as those submitted through Pinterest’s dedicated feature for flagging misinformation.
The Pinterest movement has drawn praise from organizations working on climate action.
“Climate misinformation on digital platforms is a serious threat to the public support needed to solve the climate crisis,” said Michael Khoo, Friends of the Earth climate disinformation co-chair. “Pinterest has shown great leadership in creating a community standard that includes a definition of climate misinformation, and we will continue to push all platforms to be transparent and report their actions. We encourage others to take note of Pinterest’s efforts to reduce climate change misinformation,” he added.