Pinterest announced today that it will become the first major digital platform to adopt a comprehensive misinformation policy to combat false and misleading climate change claims on its platform. Under the company’s newly updated misinformation guidelines, Pinterest can now remove content that denies the existence of climate change effects, denies human impact on climate change, and content that denies climate change and is backed by scientific consensus, among others.
It will also remove false and misleading content about climate change solutions that contradicts the scientific consensus; Content that misrepresents scientific data, either through omissions or cherry picking, in order to undermine 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 must follow the same rules, and the Pinterest Ads Policies have been updated to also ban ads that contain conspiracy theories, misinformation and disinformation related to climate change.
“Pinterest believes in creating a place that is trustworthy and honest for those who use our platform. This bold move is an extension of our broader misinformation policy, which we first developed in 2017 to combat public health misinformation and have since updated to address new and emerging issues as they come to the fore to step. The expanded climate misinformation policy is another step in Pinterest’s journey to fight misinformation and create a safer online space,” said Sarah Bromma, Pinterest’s head of policy, in a statement accompanying the announcement.
The company says it has 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, an increase in user searches for topics related to sustainability and the environment. In the past year, searches for “zero waste tips” increased 6x, “clothing recycling ideas” increased 4x, and searches for “recycled home decor” increased 95%, while searches for “zero waste lifestyle” increased 64% increase. .
To further inspire greener lifestyles, Pinterest will launch a Creator Originals content series led by creators from the US, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia and India , which will focus on things like money-saving tips, upcycling clothes, minimizing food waste and more. It will also offer advertising credit for select organizations including Project Drawdown and Potential Energy Coalition, the organization that powers Science Moms.
The new directive follows an increased awareness of the role of companies in combating climate change. For example, the SEC has proposed new rules that would require companies to report how their operations impact the climate and carbon emissions formation. It also ramped up its inquiries from big tech companies, asking for more information on climate change disclosures. Among those asked for more details were the big technology companies Alphabet, Amazon, Autodesk, eBay, Meta, Intel and Salesforce. The UN also recently released a climate report encouraging the adoption of renewable energy sources and other measures to limit the impact of climate change.
Today’s update wouldn’t be the first time that Pinterest has changed its policies to better align with the scientific community. In the summer of 2019, before the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting anti-vax sentiment that later arose, Pinterest announced it would limit vaccine-related search results to authoritative sources, including leading 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, it blocked anti-vaccination content to prevent the spread of conspiracies. Authoritative search results for Covid-19 were also published in 2020.
More generally, Pinterest has taken other proactive steps aimed at making its network a more positive place. For example, in 2016 it banned the promotion of sensitive content, including culturally appropriate and inappropriate costumes. It also stopped running political ads in 2018 and introduced compassionate search for people seeking mental health support in 2019.
Of course, updating a content policy and actually enforcing it are two different things.
Pinterest claims it will use a variety of methods to find the ads and take action in violation of its new climate change policy, including a combination of automated systems and moderator investigations. It said the Pinterest Trust & Safety team will also review user reports of infringing content — like those submitted through Pinterest’s special misinformation flagging feature.
Pinterest’s move has been praised by organizations working on climate action.
“Climate disinformation on digital platforms is a serious threat to the public support needed to solve the climate crisis,” said Michael Khoo, Co-Chair of Climate Disinformation at Friends of the Earth. “Pinterest has shown great leadership by creating a community standard that includes a definition of climate misinformation, and we will continue to urge all platforms to be transparent and report on their actions. We encourage others to take note of Pinterest’s efforts to reduce climate change disinformation,” he added.