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Mass exodus of environmentalists on X after Musk takeover, says research

Mass exodus of environmentalists on X after Musk takeover, says research

New Delhi: Nearly 50 per cent of environmentalists have left Twitter, recently rebranded X, after its acquisition by tech billionaire Elon Musk, and said that the decline was “troubling”, a new analysis has revealed.

In October 2022, Musk purchased Twitter for a staggering $44 billion, a platform that had previously served as the leading social media platform for environmental discourse.

A group of researchers, in their publication for the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, highlighted a mass exodus of environmental advocates from the platform, stating that this could be an “existential threat” to a main way of informing people who want to take climate action.

“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.

Also Read: Elon Musk to auction old Twitter signs, other items

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 raise 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.

Musk, after the acquisition, had radically cut X’s content moderation staff. Reports have found a rise in disinformation and misinformation regarding climate change on the platform and a sharp increase in hate speech, reports The Guardian.

Also Read: X fined $350K for delayed response to Trump's account search warrant

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TAGS:TwitterResearchElon MuskEnvironmentalistsXExodus
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