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Twitter Is Regressing Into a Cesspool of Climate Misinformation

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Elon Musk’s free-for-all policies have unnerved researchers fleeing the platform.

This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Twitter has proved a cherished forum for climate scientists to share research, as well as for activists seeking to rally action to halt oil pipelines or decry politicians’ failure to cut pollution. But many are now fleeing Twitter due to a surge in climate misinformation, spam, and even threats that have upended their relationship with the platform.

Scientists and advocates have told the Guardian they have become unnerved by a recent resurgence of debunked climate change denialist talking points and memes on Twitter, with the term #ClimateScam now regularly the first result that appears when “climate” is searched on the site.

Under the often chaotic leadership of Elon Musk, Twitter has fired content management teams, dismantled the platform’s sustainability arm, and lifted bans on several prominent users with millions of followers, such as Donald Trump and the right-wing commentator Jordan Peterson, who has espoused falsities about the climate crisis. The changes have been too much to bear for some climate experts.

“Since Musk’s takeover I have ramped down my own use of Twitter, using it less both to look for news and to share science,” said Twila Moon, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center who said she was worried that years of connections formed between scientists could “crumble” if trust in Twitter collapses.

“Folks noticing a rise in climate denialism and disinformation is particularly worrying and I am concerned that it could slow climate action in ways that are devastating to economies, communities, and health,” she said.

Michael Mann, a prominent climate scientist at University of Pennsylvania, said he has no immediate plans to depart Twitter but he’s noticed that climate disinformation has “become a bit more on the nose, with climate deniers who had been deactivated making a reappearance, and climate denial getting somewhat more traction.”

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