Twitter had been an effective platform various institutions utilize to share their advocacies, such as those who fight climate change. However, these climate action proponents believe much has changed since the billionaire Elon Musk took over Twitter. For one, it has become more challenging for them to share their advocacies on the platform.
Climate scientists who are suffering insults and mass spam are leaving Twitter to move to other social media platforms as hostile climate-change denialism increases on the social media platform after Musk’s takeover. Since the Tesla lead took over Twitter in October 2022, many of these climate scientists believe it is getting harder to share their advocacies on the platform.
As these climate advocates become stronger online, there is also a rise in organized resistance from climate reform opponents.
One of these climate scientists who decided to leave Twitter is Peter Gleick, a climate and water specialist with almost 99,000 followers. Last Sunday, he announced he would stop posting on Twitter because of threats he has been receiving, including direct physical threats.
“[But] in the past few months, since the takeover and changes at Twitter, the amount, vituperativeness, and intensity of abuse have skyrocketed,” Gleick said, adding he has become accustomed to “offensive, personal, ad hominem attacks, up to and including direct physical threats.”
Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, also decided to leave Twitter. He said he is moving to the newsletter platform Substack instead.
“In response to almost any tweet concerning climate change, I find my notifications inundated with replies from verified accounts making misleading or misguided claims,” Dessler pointed out.
Then, there are those who left Twitter earlier, such as glaciologist Ruth Mottram who had over 10,000 followers on the platform. She left in February to join other alternative scientists who have been discovering Mastodon, a different platform that has microblogging features similar to Twitter.
“It’s really been a revelation in many ways. It’s a much quieter and more thoughtful platform,” Mottram said.
There are also researchers who studied the engagements to these posts by climate scientists on Twitter before and after Musk’s takeover. They discovered that engagements to such posts became less after the billionaire took over than before he did.
Around a week ago, news media outlets reported about these climate scientists who feel they are being abused on Twitter following Musk’s takeover. They say the platform is “now flooded with ‘climate denial.’”
For instance. University College London Earth System Science professor Dr. Mark Maslin spoke to The Guardian, and said he has been the target of abuse and rude comments on Twitter as he argues with “climate deniers.”
Maslin added that before Musk’s takeover, he used to have meetings with Twitter’s former head of sustainability, Sean Boyle, to ensure his posts would be pushed to the top of feeds. However, Boyle was among the staff Musk laid off after he bought the platform.
As of press time, there has been no statement from Musk about this issue, except for this tweet he wrote in January: “People on the right should see more ‘left-wing’ stuff and people on the left should see more ‘right-wing’ stuff. But you can just block it if you want to stay in an echo chamber.”