Climate Denial Rises on Musk’s Twitter

CAAD's collaboration with TikTok influencer Abbie Richards has revealed a concerning surge in climate denial tweets on Twitter, with the volume tripling to 110,000 per week since Elon Musk's acquisition of the platform. This research underscores the platform's struggle to curb climate misinformation, particularly after its change in ownership.

CAAD has partnered with TikTok influencer Abbie Richards to investigate trends in climate denial on Twitter. After analyzing 4.8 million tweets, our research shows a step-change increase in the quantity of climate disinformation since July of 2022. Between December 2021 and July 2022, there were an average 30,000 climate denial tweets per week. After July 2022, that figure nearly tripled to 110,000 tweets per week. This research quantifies the platform’s inability to reign in climate mis- and disinformation – especially since its acquisition by Elon Musk.

Key Findings
– There was an increasing trend in the volume of tweets featuring climate change denial terms between December 2021 and February 2023.
– Starting around July 2022, the average number of tweets per week featuring climate change denial – terms increased to approximately ~110k tweets per week. That compares to an average of ~30k tweets per week between December 2021 and June 2022.
– We were not able to establish the exact cause of this increase, but note that the initial spike (week of July 17, 2022) happened shortly before the vote on President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act on Aug. 16, 2022. Some of the most popular tweets featuring climate change denial terms in the weeks leading up to the vote were from accounts criticizing the act.
– Around October 2022, we also identified multiple tweets featuring climate change denial terms from accounts celebrating Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the platform’s reportedly reduced moderation of climate change denial content.
– The increase in the volume of tweets was not accompanied by an increase in engagement (retweets and likes). For the majority of the collection period, engagement levels remained below 20k interactions, with an average of 10k interactions.

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