50% of environmentalists abandoned Twitter after Musk’s takeover
Users were considered “active” if they posted on the platform at least once within a 15-day period
NEW DELHI: Nearly 50 per cent of environmentalists have left Twitter (now X.com) after its takeover by tech billionaire Elon Musk, a new research has revealed.
In October 2022, Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion, which had previously served as the leading social media platform for environmental discourse.
A team of researchers wrote in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution that there has been a mass exodus of environmental users on the platform -- a phenomenon that could have serious implications for public communication surrounding topics like 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 US-based research team of biologists and environmental consultants.
The team studied a group of 380,000 “environmentally-oriented users,” which included a wide range of people from the conservation community who had actively participated in pro-environmental discussions surrounding topics like climate change and biodiversity on Twitter.
Users were considered “active” if they posted on the platform at least once within a 15-day period.
The researchers found that in the 6-month period after Musk took over Twitter, only 52.5 per cent of these environmental users were still actively using Twitter -- a substantially larger drop-off rate than other “comparable online communities,” including users who discuss general politics on the platform.
“There is currently no platform equivalent to Twitter. Thus, any changes in engagement by environmentally-minded users raises serious questions about where to track discourse about environmental conservation and how to
mobilise pro-environmental segments of the public,” the study authors wrote.
The future of Twitter as a platform for outreach and research is uncertain.
“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.