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Facebook Announces New Initiatives to Raise Awareness of Climate Change, and Tackle Climate Misinformation

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Amid the ongoing disruption of COVID-19, the focus on addressing climate change has seemingly taken a back seat, though scientists have warned that the threat of climate disruption has not reduced, and has in fact, intensified over the last year and a half, ramping up the need for immediate and significant action.

This week, Facebook is taking up the cause, with the announcement of a range of new features designed to raise awareness about climate change impacts, while it’s also funding a new program aimed at addressing climate misinformation across its platforms.

First off, Facebook has announced the expansion of its Climate Science Information Center, which it first launched in selected countries last September as a means to connect users with accurate, timely climate information.

Facebook Climate Science Center

The hub is now available in 16 countries, and is visited by over 100k people daily. And now Facebook’s looking to make it a more engaging, informative element.

As explained by Facebook:

“We’re renaming the hub to the Climate Science Center and are adding new modules like a quiz feature, in collaboration with the IPCC, to test people’s knowledge about climate change, as well as a feature that provides people with information about climate-related crises, starting with wildfires.

Facebook Climate Science Center update

The new additions will ideally make it a more engaging experience, and facilitate more discussion and knowledge-sharing around climate change impacts.

The updates will also make a lot of the information on the Center easier to share, which could prompt more users to spread the word throughout their Facebook networks, helping to further the discussion about such impacts.

In addition to this, Facebook’s also launching a new video series to highlight young climate advocates across Facebook and Instagram.

“Starting during Climate Week, September 20-26, we will highlight creators and advocates who raise awareness of climate change on our apps. We’ll also be launching a special food sustainability video with Sydel Curry-Lee on Facebook Watch, featuring a number of climate creators on @Instagram, and highlighting several environmental advocates in an effort to inspire and inform others on Facebook.”

Tapping into the popularity of platform influencers could be another way to spark more discussion about climate change, and shift perceptions through insight.

Facebook will also continue to support the ‘Say It With Science’ video series, which sees the UN Foundation and IPCC bringing together scientists and youth advocates to present the latest climate science insights.

And finally, Facebook says that it’s investing $1 million into a new grant program, in partnership with the International Fact Checking Network, to provide support for organizations working to combat climate misinformation. 

“Through our $1 million investment in this new grant program, we’ll invest in proposals that build alliances between fact-checkers, climate experts and other organizations to support projects that focus on combating climate misinformation. In consultation with climate communication experts from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, University of Cambridge and Monash University, we’re also adding new facts to the Facts About Climate Change section of the Climate Science Center.”

Which is particularly important in Facebook’s case, because while the platform has implemented a range of new initiatives to amplify accurate information, and address misinformation in posts, Facebook’s scale still sees it fueling certain movements and conspiracy theories that seek to minimize climate change impacts, or even outright deny that anything is happening on this front.

According to reports, Facebook has actually willingly participated in such at times.

Last July, a report found that Facebook had reversed its fact-check labels on some climate-related posts because it was asked to do so by a Republican congressman in the US. A month earlier, Facebook was also found to be allowing many climate denial posts to remain up on its platforms by tagging such as ‘opinion’, thus making them ineligible for fact checks. 

Various climate scientists have criticized Facebook’s inaction on this front, while data shows that counter-science theories often see millions of views on the platform, helping them reach much wider audiences.

Given this, it’s important that Facebook is looking to take action, but it still has a way to go in taking a meaningful stance against climate misinformation, and addressing the role that it now plays in the dissemination of such.

The largest interconnected network of people in history can have a big influence in this respect, arguably the biggest of any one organization, and if Facebook takes a stronger stance, that could play a major role in reducing anti-climate change rhetoric, and prompting more action on this front.

You can check out Facebook’s new Climate Science Center here.

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

Well, this is certainly problematic.

Twitter has announced that, as of February 9th, it’s cutting off free access to its API, which is the access point that many, many apps, bot accounts, and other tools use to function.

That means that a heap of Twitter analytics apps, management tools, schedulers, automated updates – a range of key info and insight options will soon cease to function. Which seems like the sort of thing that, if you were Twitter, you’d want to keep on your app.

But that’s not really how Twitter 2.0 is looking to operate – in a bid to rake in as much revenue as absolutely possible, in any way that it can, Twitter will now look to charge all of these apps and tools. But most, I’d hazard a guess, will simply cease to function.

The bigger business apps already pay for full API access – your Hootsuite’s and your Sprout Social’s – so they’ll likely be unaffected. But it could stop them from offering free plans, which would have a big impact on their business models.

The announcement follows Twitter’s recent API change which cut off a heap of Twitter posting tools, in order, seemingly, to stop users accessing the platform through a third-party UI. 

Now, even more Twitter tools will go extinct, a broad spread of apps and functions that contribute to the real-time ecosystem that Twitter has become. Their loss, if that’s what happens, will have big impacts on overall Twitter activity.

On the other hand, some will see this as another element in Twitter’s crackdown on bots, which Twitter chief Elon Musk has made a personal mission to eradicate. Musk has taken some drastic measures to kill off bots, some of which are having an impact, but Musk himself has also admitted that such efforts are reducing overall platform engagement

This, too, could be a killer in this respect

It’ll also open the door to Twitter competitors, as many automated update apps will switch to other platforms. This relates to things like updates on downtime from video games, weather apps, and more. There are also tools like GIF generators and auto responders – there’s a range of tools that could now look for a new home on Mastodon, or some other Twitter replicant. 

In this respect, it seems like a flawed move, which is also largely ignorant of how the developer community has facilitated Twitter’s growth. 

But Elon and Co. are going to do things their own way, whether outside commentators agree or not – and maybe this is actually a path to gaining new Twitter data customers, and boosting the company’s income. 

But I doubt it.

If there are any third-party Twitter apps that you use, it’ll be worth checking in to see if they’re impacted before next week.



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Meta ‘Year of Efficiency’ call from Zuckerberg was what Street needed

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Meta 'Year of Efficiency' call from Zuckerberg was what Street needed

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Meta Platforms Inc., center, departs from federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

With one simple slogan, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg temporarily quelled investor discontent with his company’s multibillion-dollar investment into the futuristic metaverse.

“Our management theme for 2023 is the ‘Year of Efficiency’ and we’re focused on becoming a stronger and more nimble organization,” Zuckerberg said as part of the release of Meta’s fourth-quarter earnings report.

Following a 64% plunge in Meta’s share price in 2022, Wall Street cheered the report, sending the stock up almost 20%, extending a rally that began late last year. Based on after-hours pricing, Meta is trading at its highest since July.

Growth is not what’s getting investors excited. Meta reported better-than-expected revenue in the fourth quarter, but sales still sank 4% from a year earlier, marking the third straight quarterly decline. And the forecast range for the first quarter suggests that year-over-year revenue could increase, but it could also fall again.

Rather, Zuckerberg’s commitment to cost cuts and efficiency is a sign that increasing profitability is important to Meta, which was known as a growth machine prior to last year’s slump.

“The first 18 years I think we grew it 20%, 30% compound or a lot more every year,” Zuckerberg said on the earnings call. “And then obviously that changed very dramatically in 2022, where our revenue was negative for growth, for the first time in the company’s history.”

In looking to the future, Zuckerberg struck a realistic tone.

“We don’t anticipate that that’s going to continue,” he said, regarding the recent drop in revenue. “But I also don’t think it’s going to go back to the way it was before.”

Meta lowered its estimates for total expenses in 2023 to be in the range of $89 billion to $95 billion, down from its prior outlook of $94 billion to $100 billion. In November, the company announced it would lay off over 11,000 workers, or 13% of its staff.

Zuckerberg said Meta will be more “proactive on cutting projects that aren’t performing or may no longer be crucial” and that it will emphasize “removing layers of middle management to make decisions faster.”

Meta is also reducing spending as it builds new data centers that are intended to be more efficient while still able to power the company’s various artificial intelligence technologies. Capital expenditures are now expected to be in the range of $30 billion to $33 billion for 2023 instead of $34 billion to $37 billion.

Zuckerberg is selling investors on a story they want to hear, acknowledging that the company got bloated and needed more financial discipline. One of Zuckerberg’s top deputies, technology chief Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, wrote a personal essay just a few days ago echoing that sentiment.

Still, Meta has plenty of challenges ahead, in terms of both costs and reviving its core ad business.

Meta’s Reality Labs unit, which is responsible for developing the nascent metaverse, lost $13.7 billion in 2022. Finance chief Susan Li told analysts that the company isn’t planning for any reduction in that unit anytime soon. Zuckerberg still sees it as the company’s future.

Digital advertising, meanwhile, is suffering from a struggling economy, and Li gave no indication that companies are planning to dramatically increase their spending in 2023.

Meta has also yet to recover from Apple’s 2021 iOS privacy update that made it harder to target users with ads. Li said the company has been improving its online advertising system, but Apple’s update is “still certainly an absolute headwind to our revenue number.”

During the question and answer part of the call, Zuckerberg was asked about Meta’s progress in generative artificial intelligence, which has become the latest hot thing in Silicon Valley. His answer indicated that Meta is pursuing opportunities there, but will be cautious in how quickly it proceeds. Running these programs is expensive, and Meta needs to ensure it can develop them affordably, he said.

Zuckerberg said that while Meta is researching how best to incorporate the new technology, he wants “to be careful not to get too ahead of the development of it.”

Correction: Meta’s earnings report and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s comments occurred after the market close on Wednesday. An earlier version misstated the day.

WATCH: Meta grows in daily active users, shares pop on revenue beat

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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

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Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month

Pinterest is taking a unique approach to Black History Month, with a new ‘Find Your Routes’ Black Travel Hub initiative, which aims to highlight places that have strong connections to Black history, while also showcasing Black-owned businesses.

As explained by Pinterest:

“Find Your Routes” is inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book aka “The Green Book”. The Green Book was a guidebook for Black travelers during the Jim Crow era that provided a list of accessible hotels, boarding houses, taverns, restaurants, service stations and other establishments throughout the country that served Black Americans patrons.”

The Black Travel Hub, which you can find here, will present a range of travel options, along with their history, with creators from the US, Colombia, Jamaica, Brazil and more, all taking part in presenting their city.

It could be a good way to provide education alongside inspiration in the app, while also helping people to connect, and support highlighted communities.

Pinterest will also be showcasing Black-owned businesses on Pinterest TV, while internally, it’s also hosting a company-wide event ‘to help employees gain knowledge about the history, present, and future of Black travel through the lens of Black Pinployees’.

As noted, it could be a good way to both spark important conversations, and inspire new travel journeys, which include an extra level of cultural understanding and education, along with a leisure break.

It’s an interesting take on the celebration either way, and it’ll be worth noting what sort of reaction the initiative gets, and whether it inspires more travel as a result.

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