Using Facebook for one year emits less carbon than making a fancy coffee. Or at least that’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.
“Fun fact,” Zuckerberg wrote under a video posted for Earth Day, “did you know one person’s Facebook use for an entire year has a smaller carbon footprint than making a latte?”
We’ve heard this before. Facebook made the same claim when it released its carbon footprint report for 2013, the last year for which the company made such information available. To arrive at this conclusion, Facebook took the total amount of carbon spewed into the atmosphere by its data centers — which, in 2013, was 355,000 metric tons — and divided it by the number of people who use Facebook.
Each user was responsible for 311 grams of carbon emissions, per the social network’s calculations.
On the other hand, it takes 340 grams of carbon to produce a single latte, according to one estimate, making it a little worse for the planet than a years’ worth of Likes.
But if Facebook used the same methodology this year as it has in the past, it’s leaving out a crucial factor: People use devices that rely on electricity to access their profiles, and those devices create a carbon footprint of their own. Facebook didn’t factor in the amount of carbon emitted when someone charges their laptop or smartphone. So the actual amount of carbon emitted when someone uses Facebook is probably higher than what Facebook says.
Whether Zuckerberg’s claim is totally fair or not, Facebook has sought in recent years to improve the efficiency of its operations. It also plans to power its data centers using 50 percent renewable energy by 2018.
So happy Earth Day to you too, Zuck.