Environmental Twitter accounts dropped by nearly 50 percent after Musk’s takeover: study

The list of problematic changes continues to grow

The former Twitter app was once a platform for people to share issues related to climate and the environment. But a recent study suggests the platform (now known as X) no longer has the same distinction almost a year after Elon Musk took it over.

Research published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution shows active “environmentally oriented” accounts dropped by nearly 50 percent since the takeover.

The research includes a sample of 380,000 accounts that discuss climate change mitigation and biodiversity conversation. Researchers examined the platform usage between this group and a controlled group (consisting of accounts that frequently talked about politics) to see how active they were.

Active accounts are noted as having activity within a 15-day period. The researchers examined accounts between July 2019 and April 2023.

Results show the number of active users did decrease for both groups, but the figure was much larger for environmental accounts. Only 52 percent of environmental accounts were still active, while 79 percent of political accounts stayed active.

“Thus, our findings augment troubling reports of rising climate change dis- and misinformation on the platform,” the report states.

The study further examined account activity prior to Musk taking over Twitter. While there was a decrease in activity from active environmental accounts prior to the acquisition, the figure post-takeover is much larger.

“For advocates and researchers that rely heavily on Twitter, the exodus of environmental users on Twitter is an existential threat to the primary mode used to disseminate information, mobilize diverse audiences, and analyze its data to track contemporary debates and sentiments around the world’s twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change,” the researchers state.

The loss of environmental voices on the platform isn’t the only thing to plague Twitter since its takeover. There’s been a rise in hateful content, and the company has repeatedly placed ads on pro-nazi accounts.

Image credit: Shutterstock 

Source: Trends in Ecology & Evolution