How Twitter became a haven for climate misinformation

How Twitter became a haven for climate misinformation

Aaron Rupar and Thor Benson write:

On World Meteorological Day in March, the UN Climate Change Twitter account posted an anodyne tweet reminding people that “every bit of additional global warming worsens climate impacts.” But thanks to Elon Musk’s new paid blue checkmark system, the most prominent replies to it are flooded with nonsense like “these commies are doubling down” and calls to “stop globalist fake alarmism.”

This is just one way in which Twitter is rapidly becoming a hellscape for climate scientists who not long ago relied on the platform to spread the word about their work. The degradation of the platform isn’t just anecdotal. A study released in March by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that “fringe climate denialist websites have gained a foothold in online conversation with thousands of daily mentions on Twitter by highly followed climate-denying actors, pundits and outlets.” Additional research from climate expert Ketan Joshi demonstrated how Musk’s takeover coincided with prominent climate deniers gaining Twitter followers, while climate experts lost them.

“A specific change to the algorithm to boost tweets ‘outside’ of one’s political sphere has resulted in far, far more eyeballs on right-wing content,” Joshi writes.

Michael Mann, a climate scientist and distinguished professor of environmental science at the University of Pennsylvania, has been a loud, provocative voice trying to draw attention to what Twitter is becoming.

“Musk, Putin and Saudis intentionally destroyed Twitter. It was the biggest catch-and-kill operation in world history,” he tweeted last month, alluding to Saudi Arabia’s leading role in funding Musk’s Twitter takeover and help he also received from a financier connected to a Russian tycoon. [Continue reading…]

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