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Around 50% of environmentalists abandoned Twitter

The researchers discovered that only 52.5% of these environmental users were still actively using Twitter, six months after Elon Musk took over

Twitter, which was recently renamed as X, has lost about 50% of its environmental user base, after the app was acquired by tech tycoon Elon Musk, according to a recent study.

Elon Musk paid USD 44 billion in October 2022 to acquire Twitter, the top social media platform for discussions on several issues including the environment at the time.

There has been a mass exodus of environmental users from the platform, according to a team of researchers who reported their findings in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution. This phenomenon could have significant repercussions on how the general public communicates about issues like biodiversity, climate change, and the aftermath of natural disasters.

“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,” the US-based research team of biologists and environmental consultants wrote.

The research team looked at a group of 380,000 ‘environmentally-oriented users,’ which included a variety of conservationists who actively participated in pro-environmental discussions on Twitter about issues like climate change and biodiversity.

Users were deemed ‘active’ if they made at least one post on the platform within a 15-day period.

The researchers discovered that only 52.5% of these environmental users were still actively using the service six months after Elon Musk took over.

“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.

Twitter’s potential as a tool 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,” the authors said.

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