Pinterest will ban ads and posts displaying weather misinformation in its latest attempt to block harmful content on its virtual pinboard service, the company said Wednesday.
Prohibition includes any material that denies the existence or effects of climate change, or that humans are influencing global warming and denies that the phenomenon is supported by scientific consensus. Inaccurate posts about natural disasters and extreme weather events will also be removed, as misrepresentation of scientific data by omission or cherry-picking is meant to erode confidence in climate science.
Questions about sustainability on Pinterest are growing, with questions about “zero waste lifestyles” rising 64 percent over the past year.
Google said in October that it would no longer display ads on YouTube videos and other content that promotes unsubstantiated claims about climate change. Some publications have stopped accepting ads from fossil fuel companies, while advertising agencies are increasingly removing work from the industry.
A report released this week by a panel of experts convened by the United Nations concluded that nations should drastically reduce their fossil fuel emissions in the coming years to curb the catastrophic levels of global warming.
Pinterest has blocked many categories of ads over the years, banning ads that show culturally appropriate and inappropriate attire in 2016, anti-vaccine content in 2017, political ads in 2018, and weight-loss ads in 2021. In response, companies like Shapermint made their changes. According to Pinterest, marketing campaigns to show off women of all body types.
Advertising is a part of all Pinterest revenue. The company, which has declined to disclose how many climate misinformation ads it has in the past, said it used human mediators, automated systems and user reports to enforce its policies.
Sarah Broma, head of policy at Pinterest, said the company wants to prevent misinformation before it gains popularity on the site. Tech giants like Meta and Twitter have been hit hard by users and advertisers for allowing hate speech, conspiracy theories and misleading content on their services.
“We always want to make sure that our policies are leaning forward, that we don’t wait until we’re overrun with some kind of harmful stuff and then move on,” she said. “At that point, it’s too late.”