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Environmental users abandoned Twitter after Musk takeover

Trends in Ecology, Environmental users abandoned Twitter after Musk takeover. Published: August 15, 2023. DOI: – “In our sample of 380,000 environmentally oriented users, nearly 50% became inactive on Twitter after it was sold in October 2022, a rate much higher than a control sample. Given Twitter’s importance for public communication, our finding has troubling implications for digital environmental information sharing and public mobilization. Twitter’s importance for public discourse – Twitter has been the dominant social media platform for diverse environmental interests to communicate and organize around advocacy goals, exchange ideas and research, and find new opportunities for collaboration. As a result, Twitter has been used to track a broad array of topics important to conservation and environmental research, ranging from biodiversity conservation, human–nature interactions, climate change beliefs, extreme weather disaster responses, and environmental policy preferences, as well as to disseminate information and mobilize public interest by environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and public agencies. 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 mobilize pro-environmental segments of the public. We provide evidence that the recent acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk has led to the rapid decline of pro-environmental Twitter users (henceforth, ‘Environmental Twitter’) at a rate higher than comparable online communities.”

A survey conducted by Nature suggests that Jarochowska, now at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, is far from alone in curtailing her use of the platform. Since entrepreneur Elon Musk took control in October 2022, he has made a series of largely unpopular changes to Twitter, including cutting down on content moderation; ditching its ‘blue-check’ verification system in favour of one that grants paying members additional clout and privileges; charging money for access to data for research; limiting the number of tweets users can see; and abruptly changing the platform’s name and familiar logo to simply ‘X’. His management has left scientists reconsidering the value of X, and many seem to be leaving. To get a better sense of how researchers are currently interacting with the site formerly known as Twitter, Nature reached out to more than 170,000 scientists who were, or still are, users; nearly 9,200 responded. More than half reported that they have reduced the time they spend on the platform in the past six months and just under 7% have stopped using it altogether. Roughly 46% have joined other social-media platforms, such as Mastodon, Bluesky, Threads and TikTok.”

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