Environmentalists quitting Twitter in bulk following Musk takeover, research finds

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 16-08-2023 16:22 IST | Created: 16-08-2023 16:14 IST
Environmentalists quitting Twitter in bulk following Musk takeover, research finds
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Nearly half the environmentalists active on Twitter, now X, left the platform in the 6-months following Musk's takeover, researchers found and say this could have serious implications for public discourse surrounding issues such as biodiversity, climate change, and natural disaster recovery.

The researchers studied a group of 3,80,000 ''environmentally-oriented users'' on Twitter, that included people from the conservation community active in pro-environmental discussions on topics like climate change and biodiversity.

Only 52.5 per cent of these environmental users were found to be actively using Twitter in the 6-month period after Musk took over the microblogging platform. Users were considered ''active'' if they posted on the platform at least once within a 15-day period.

Twitter, purchased by Elon Musk in October 2022, had previously served as the leading social media platform for environmental discourse.

''Twitter has been the dominant social media platform for diverse environmental interests to communicate and organize around advocacy goals, exchange ideas and research, and new opportunities for collaboration,'' wrote the US-based research team of biologists and environmental consultants.

The drop-off rate was substantially larger than other ''comparable online communities'', including users who discuss general politics on the platform, the study published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution found.

''There is currently no platform equivalent to Twitter,'' the team wrote.

''Thus, any changes in engagement by environmentally-minded users raises serious questions about where to track discourse about environmental conservation and how to mobilize pro-environmental segments of the public,'' they wrote.

The authors called upon researchers to take an active role in the transition towards different modes of environmental communication - whether that be advocating for change within Twitter to help make it a useful platform for environmentalists again or collectively switching to another platform like Mastodon or Threads.

''The future of Twitter as a platform for outreach and research is uncertain,'' wrote the authors.

''We need to create collaborations across industry, the non-profit sector, and academia to track public engagement with the environment across social media platforms for the benefit of primary research, applied environmental conservation, and climate mitigation,'' they said in their study.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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