What happens when a social media app’s new ownership fires a significant portion of its content moderation? Unfortunately, we’re watching that very scenario play out in real time right now with Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. Things that would have previously been flagged immediately are no longer being processed as such, and it’s leading to a much more fraught experience for many of the app’s users.
The latest example of this comes via a new report at The Guardian, which focuses on an increase in climate change denial on the site. The article quotes University of Pennsylvania climate scientist Michael Mann, who spoke of seeing “climate deniers who had been deactivated making a reappearance, and climate denial getting somewhat more traction.”
This phenomenon also includes the hashtag #ClimateScam coming up more prominently in searches for some users. According to The Guardian‘s reporting, this predates Elon Musk’s takeover of the company — the article cites research done by Climate Action Against Disinformation noting that phrases like the aforementioned hashtag and both “climate scam” and “climate is a scam” have been on the rise since July of this year.
As it’s described here, the issue is twofold: part of what’s historically made Twitter appealing is the presence of experts in certain fields who are willing to chime in on certain issues. If those experts would prefer to head elsewhere, as s their prerogative, that part of the discourse on Twitter would be lost.
Unfortunately, denial of climate change isn’t the only thing that’s been increasing on Twitter lately. This, too, doesn’t bode well for the platform’s future or health.
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