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Aug 17 – According to new study, nearly half of environmentalists have abandoned Twitter (now X.com) since its purchase by internet tycoon Elon Musk.
Musk paid $44 billion for Twitter in October 2022, which had previously been the top social media site for environmental conversation.
According to a study published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, there has been a mass exodus of environmental users from the platform, a phenomenon that could have serious implications for public communication about topics such as biodiversity, climate change, and natural disaster recovery.
“Twitter has been the dominant social media platform for diverse environmental interests to communicate and organise around advocacy goals, exchange ideas and research, and new opportunities for collaboration,”wrote the study team of biologists and environmental consultants located in the United States.
The researchers analysed a group of 380,000 “environmentally-oriented users,” which included a diverse variety of conservationists who actively participated in pro-environmental discussions on Twitter about issues such as climate change and biodiversity.
Users were considered “active” if they posted at least once on the platform within a 15-day period.
The researchers discovered that only 52.5 percent of these environmental users were still actively using Twitter six months after Musk took over the platform, a significantly higher drop-off rate than other “comparable online communities,” including users who discuss general politics on the platform.
“At the moment, there is no platform comparable to Twitter.” “As a result, any change in engagement by environmentally conscious users raises serious questions about where to track environmental conservation discourse and how to mobilise pro-environmental segments of the public,” the study’s authors concluded.
Twitter’s future as a platform for outreach and research is unknown.
“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,” said the authors.