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Pinterest Takes a Stand Against Climate Change Denial With New Policy

The digital pinboard site makes it clear it will remove false and misleading information about climate change.

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Pinterest logo.
James Martin/CNET

Pinterest on Wednesday unveiled a new policy that specifies the social media platform will remove false and misleading content about climate change.

The digital pinboard site says the new rules makes it the "only major digital platform to have clearly defined guidelines against false or misleading climate change information, including conspiracy theories, across content and ads."

The guidelines are part of Pinterest's broader rules against misinformation. Currently, Pinterest's misinformation policy states it will remove or limit the sharing of false or misleading content that may be harmful. Under the new policy, Pinterest says it will remove climate change denial content, false or misleading content about climate change solutions, posts that misrepresent scientific data and harmful false or misleading content about natural disasters and other emergencies.

The move by Pinterest could put pressure on other social networks to roll out their own climate change misinformation policies. Misinformation about climate change, which is defined as long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns, has been an ongoing problem on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter. Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, alleged that Facebook lacked a clear policy on climate change and that hampered removal of this type of content.

Facebook and Twitter have tried to address this problem by steering users to authoritative sources about climate change and labeling posts. Facebook also partners with third-party fact checkers to debunk misinformation. The social network has a broader policy against misinformation but climate change isn't mentioned in those rules. Twitter also has broader rules about how it tackles misinformation that doesn't specify in these policies how it addresses climate change.

Social networks have also been criticized for failing to properly enforce its policies against misinformation. A report issued by the Center for Countering Digital Hate this year found that Facebook failed to label about half of climate change denial content. Advance Democracy, a nonprofit that studies misinformation, found climate change misinformation is still prevalent on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Google-owned YouTube despite the company's vows to crack down on this content, USA Today reported in January.

While Pinterest is more well known as a place where people get ideas for home decor, recipes and weddings, content about climate change also appears on the site. Pinterest doesn't share data about how much climate change misinformation it has removed from its platform.

"The expanded climate misinformation policy is yet another step in Pinterest's journey to combat misinformation and create a safe space online," said Sarah Bromma, Pinterest's Head of Policy, in a statement.

The company said it also updated its advertising guidelines so it's explicit that Pinterest doesn't allow ads that contain conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation about climate change. Google, which owns YouTube, in 2021 also barred ads that "contradicts well-established scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change."