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Climate Misinformation Has Proliferated on Twitter Since Musk’s Takeover

Misleading posts about climate change have flourished on Twitter since Elon Musk took charge of the company in October, according to a new report.

“What’s happening in the information ecosystem poses a direct threat to action,” Jennie King, head of climate disinformation at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which produced the report, told the Associated Press. “It plants those seeds of doubt and makes people think maybe there isn’t scientific consensus.”

The report finds that Twitter is actively recommending the term “climate scam” to users who searched for “climate” during the UN climate talks in November. The report found that “climate scam” often appeared as the top result in searches, despite greater user engagement with other terms relating to climate change. The report says that it’s unclear why “climate scam” gained more prominence than these other terms, adding that the trend highlights “the need for transparency on how and why platforms surface content to users.”

A recent analysis undertaken by the University of London found that tweets rejecting climate science hit an all-time high last year. As of December, there were more than 850,000 climate-skeptical tweets or retweets in 2022, as compared with 650,000 in 2021 and 220,000 in 2020.

Since Musk took over Twitter, several prominent climate deniers who had been banned from the platform for spreading misinformation about Covid-19 have had their accounts restored.

“My Twitter account and many others opposing the ‘consensus’ climate view have all increased visibility dramatically since Musk took over Twitter,” Marc Morano, a prominent climate denier, told E&E News in December. “Whatever Musk is altering, I hope he keeps it up.”

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