While there has been no specific policy change at Twitter regarding climate disinformation since Elon Musk’s takeover, the Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) coalition– of which ISD is a member– has noted concerns. ISD’s Jennie King shares with Euro News some of the worrying observations from COP27.
“We were beginning to make progress. Twitter had introduced a special climate ‘topic’ around COP26, helping users surface reliable content, and we had real advocates within the platform’s Sustainability and Trust & Safety Teams.”
Twitter launched an official @TwitterEarth handle right before this year’s UN summit. The account posted that “Twitter is the voice of COP27.” However, it hadn’t posted since 4 November.
“Unfortunately, almost all our intermediaries are now gone, following the last fortnight of upheaval and lay-offs at the platform,” she said. Since then, narratives meant to “delegitimise” COP and promote delayism have been more readily available.
“There was a surge in trolls and accounts who felt emboldened by this new leadership ethos,” Jennie said. “That particular strain petered out in a few days, but it would seem there is a new permission structure for hate, extremism and disinformation on the platform, made more chaotic by policy changes (and then reversals) surrounding ‘blue tick’ verification.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me if in the coming year we see violence against frontline groups or those pursuing nonviolent direct action, including largely youth-led movements like Just Stop Oil and Fridays for Future,” she says.
“The escalation of violence in recent years, including lethally running over protestors, shows how hostility on fringe platforms can snowball into real-world harm,” she said.
The full interview is available on Euro News.