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2022 is officially the worst year for climate scepticism on Twitter

Climate misinformation on Twitter has been more rife in 2022 than any previous year, according to recent reports. But why?

People talking garbage on Twitter isn’t a new phenomenon, but we’ve lowered the bar in 2022.

An exasperating rise in climate denier content ignited in 2022 on Twitter, making the year far and away the worst for this type of misinformation since the platform’s inception.

Analysis conducted by The Times revealed that 850,000 tweets and retweets have expressed this dubious rhetoric, compared to 650,000 in 2021, and 220,000 in 2020. Basically, what was already something of a dumpster fire is now a raging inferno.

Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover in October – which was akin to that of a bull in a china shop – instantly diminished the platform’s workforce to unrecognisable levels, and concerns about misinformation and hate speech proliferating have yet to be sated.

This recent loosening of regulations directly correlates with the rise in a few troublesome hashtags. Chief among them is #climatescam, which makes up around 40% of tweets containing climate sceptic language in 2022. Prior to this year, the hashtag represented just two percent.

If you head to Twitter right now and begin searching ‘#climate,’ ‘#climatescam’ appears as a top result complete with a buffet of false information.

Wading through the memes, the general sentiment seems to be that climate change is a fabricated phenomenon used by socialists to drum up fear, remove our freedoms, and ultimately rinse our pockets.

Misinformation of this variety was particularly rife throughout the COP27 conference in November, with the previously mentioned hashtag appearing in close to 24,000 posts.

It has to be said, however, that just 20 Twitter users accounted for a quarter of all the year’s indiscretions. Musk’s decision to reverse injunctions for previously banned personalities – including global warming conspiracists  – has allowed for a revival of opinions that contradict ubiquitous science.

One such character, Jordan Peterson, recently took to Twitter and rubbished the idea that global efforts to reach net zero carbon emissions are needed. Obviously, research has deemed this goal not just necessary, but absolutely essential.

On the flip side, climate scientists and experts are said to be considering leaving Twitter altogether, as its advantages get increasingly lost in a wall of noise and squabbling.

‘I can understand climate scientists saying this is not a productive place for conversations with each other anymore,’ says Jennie King, head of civic action and education at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

‘They’ve become lightning rods for hate speech and death threats, we are seeing a real escalation of threats against them, intended to drive them off the platform,’ she explained.

In a world where an increasing number of folk are consuming news from social media, it’s concerning to think a platform with the massive reach of Twitter continues to knowingly mislead people – and on a subject as significant as climate change.


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