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Facebook 'Fact Checkers' Punish and Censor Debate on Climate Science

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Ben Margot, File

Steven Koonin is one of the country's top physicists. He worked for President Barack Obama, a Democrat, as Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. Science Feedback, one of Facebook's "independent fact-checkers," is barring reviews about his book, "Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t and Why It Matters," and classifying its content as false. 


"Mr. Koonin is no 'climate denier,' to use the concocted phrase used to shut down debate," The Wall Street Journal writes in a review of the book. "The word 'denier' is of course meant to associate skeptics of climate alarmism with Holocaust deniers. Mr. Koonin finds this label particularly abhorrent, since 'the Nazis killed more than two hundred of my relatives in Eastern Europe.' As for 'denying,' Mr. Koonin makes it clear, on the book’s first page, that 'it's true that the globe is warming, and that humans are exerting a warming influence upon it.'"

"The heart of the science debate, however, isn’t about whether the globe is warmer or whether humanity contributed," The Wall Street Journal continues. "The important questions are about the magnitude of civilization's contribution and the speed of changes; and, derivatively, about the urgency and scale of governmental response. Mr. Koonin thinks most readers will be surprised at what the data show. I dare say they will."

At Townhall, we wrote about The Wall Street Journal’s recent review of "Unsettled" and highlighted Koonin’s argument that the science on climate change isn't settled. Because of this, Climate Feedback, an arm of Science Feedback, rated the story as "partly false" and argued we were repeating false information from Koonin's book and The Wall Street Journal piece. Facebook then slowed the reach of our post as a punishment for the rating, which suppressed and censored the story. If the post does happen to pop up in your feed, it will be accompanied by a "partly false" label and a link to Science Feedback's "fact-check." And anyone who dares to try and share the story themselves is prompted to reconsider and review Science Feedback's "additional reporting" on the topic before hitting "post."


"The Townhall article repeats several misleading and false claims regarding climate change that appear in Steven Koonin's book 'Unsettled,'" Science Feedback said in response to our appeal. "The Townhall article doesn't provide any indication or additional context to readers that explains these claims are inconsistent with the current scientific evidence." 

Nowhere in the article did we endorse or give credence to the claims made in "Unsettled," we simply reported on what Koonin had written. We, like many others, found it newsworthy that Koonin, a former senior government official and nationally known scientist, has a different perspective on climate change, one outside the main narrative regularly held up in government and media. The "current scientific evidence" Science Feedback cites isn't as conclusive as they'd like everyone to believe. Rather it's cherrypicked data that only supports one side of the debate, Science Feedback's side. 

But the censorship of Koonin's book and any outlet that dares to discuss it is just one piece of the broader agenda being pushed by Science Feedback. The organization has repeatedly "fact-checked" Townhall pieces about climate change, labeling them false after ignoring context, falsely rebutting factual climate data, and effectively removing all debate about climate change from Facebook. They also suppress debate on other topics and regularly censor thoroughly-sourced stories about CDC guidance, masks, vaccines and more. 


According to Science Feedback's own fact-checking standards, they should be "following an unbiased approach to guarantee objectivity." Instead, the site—sanctioned by Facebook—is engaged in an extremely biased approach to climate and general science by accepting only one view on these issues. Ironically, this is an anti-science approach. True science is dedicated to debate and experimentation, not conforming to a set narrative from Facebook "fact-checkers."

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