- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Leading Democrats want Facebook to censor a “climate denial” group co-founded by Princeton professor emeritus William Happer, citing the tech giant’s recent crackdown on “misinformation.”

In a letter posted on Climate Power 2020, Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer, former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams, and ex-Obama administration officials called on the newly formed Facebook Oversight Board to “take action” against the CO2 Coalition.

The coalition, whose members include a bevy of climate scientists, professors and physicians, seeks to promote “the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy,” but the Democrats warned that the organization was putting “the nation’s health and security at dire risk.”

“By allowing climate misinformation to go unchecked, Facebook is actively putting the health and well-being of our nation’s most vulnerable low-income communities and communities of color at risk,” said the July 1 letter. “You and the Oversight Board must step in and enact the same standard for the denial of climate change as you did for COVID-19 misinformation.”

The plea comes as an indicator of what the Oversight Board may expect after forming in May to decide “the most challenging content issues” for Facebook and Instagram, including those on “hate speech, harassment, and protecting people’s safety and privacy,” the board said in a New York Times op-ed.

Conservatives have raised alarm over the board serving as a cudgel to suppress mainstream right-of-center views—Sen. Josh Hawley dubbed the panel the “special censorship committee”—and the challenge to the CO2 Coalition was seen as a sign that progressives plan to leverage the process to de-platform their foes.

In its response, the CO2 Coalition called the Democrats‘ request a “badge of honor for our atmospheric physicists, climatologists, and statisticians’ recent publications about how computerized climate models that project future temperatures work—and don’t work.”

“The CO2 Coalition is proud to be the target of this letter, whose signatories represent alarmist organizations that routinely publish scientific and economic misinformation about climate change and energy options,” said the July 2 post.

The 19 signers include representatives of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Climate Reality Action Fund, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club and Earthjustice, as well as former Obama officials John Podesta, Gina McCarthy, and Carol Browner.

Their letter accused Facebook of allowing “climate denial to fester by labeling it ‘opinion,’ and thus avoiding the platform’s fact-checking processes.”

“The integrity of the Oversight Board is at risk,” said the letter. “Mark Zuckerberg has refused to recognize that he must get the facts right on climate, and refused to acknowledge that climate denial on his platform is as dangerous a threat to future generations as any.”

Caleb Rossiter, executive director of the CO2 Coalition, said the letter represents the latest effort by the “cancel culture” to push the “unscientific climate catastrophe narrative.”

“The letter labels our members as ‘climate deniers,’” said the CO2 Coalition response. “We ask each of the 15 signatories to Climate Power 2020’s letter to identify a single denial of a scientific or economic fact in our publications or public statements.”

The CO2 Coalition’s members include MIT professor emeritus Richard Lindzen, University of Alabama in Huntsville principal research scientist Roy Spencer, former Greenpeace leader Patrick Moore, and Mr. Happer, who served in 2018-19 as a deputy assistant for technology on the National Security Council.

The 20-member independent Oversight Board, headed by former Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, has the authority to overrule Facebook’s content moderators on whether to remove posts.

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