The Social Media Report #26: climate, social media, activism and education
Online movements shaping the environment
In this edition of The Social Media Report, I am taking a look at the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change. With the report’s findings having been the story of this week, I’ve looked at social media’s coverage, impact and potential.
I also have as usual my must-read articles of the week. Subscribe below if you’ve been sent this, and you’ll get every edition soon as it’s out.
Last week I paid a visit to Glasgow. It’s going to be the host city to the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 this November, and this week of course the UN’s climate research made the news due to the release of the IPCC’s new report into climate change.
The city of Glasgow I’m sure will prove a compelling backdrop to the climate summit, with its shipbuilding past and striking industrial architecture. Whereas at its peak, Glasgow was manufacturing one in five of the world’s ships, today we are reading in the UN report that carbon emission reduction is the most pressing concern for society to avoid climate failure.
Scrolling through the social media feeds of experts and activists in order to guide my thinking on this report, a retweet from Greta Thunberg caught my eye. Whilst the UK is experiencing a typically drizzly summer, mainland Europe is seeing its hottest temperatures on record. Impeccable timing.
However, as you might expect, the social media ecosystem is filled with an array of perspectives on the topic of climate change, and they’re not all pointing in the same direction. With just a brief scroll further down by feeds, I found people sharing the news that temperatures aren’t that bad after all and that the ‘climate crisis’ is just a hoax.
Different perspectives on matters such as the environment will always exist and should come to be expected. Debate is key, of course. But hoaxers and propaganda, or worse, coordinated disinformation campaigns, are only making matters worse.
A reporter worth following on this matter is Marianna Spring at the BBC who is currently gathering information for a report on the how “the climate change report has triggered conversation falsely suggesting climate research is a hoax to limit freedoms in Covid conspiracy circles online.” Her research in this space I always think is worth a read.
But I think that ultimately here, it’s not what’s right or wrong, whose opinions surface more one than the other online, but rather that social media offers a huge platform to galvanise huge audiences to inspire action. The IPCC report shows some good news, in that if we reach net zero, according to the research, temperatures will stop rising. So it’s all to play for. What would it take to make that happen?
I’ve gathered for examples of people and organisations actually doing something about it and using social media to help this situation and to inspire. Here’s a rundown of some profiles you might want to follow and share so that you can infuse a bit of action into your social media feed.
EcoTok: ‘the environmentalists of TikTok’ posting content to educate and inspire.
Regenerative Futures: ‘a Gen Z-designed model for a world built upon the principles of equity, fluidity, and sustainability.’
Immy Lucas: runs a sustainability Instagram account about food and the outdoors.
Intersectional Environmentalist: an Instagram account and community ‘exploring the intersections of social + the environment.'
Nat Geo and Greta: I can’t put a list together on the environment and not mention the Nat Geo Insta or Greta’s Twitter. Both are amongst the leading voices online whether you’re talking environment or just reading the news, and with 177m followers (NatGeo) and 5m (Greta) they pack a punch.
My must reads of the week
Here are some of the stories that I have been reading this week.
Instagram and Facebook kick out some anti-vax trolls: Facebook announced that after investigating a story which I and others reported on from June this year, it has kicked hundreds of fake social media profiles promoting dangerous anti-vax propaganda off Facebook and Instagram.
TikTok tightens teen safety: TikTok users aged 13 to 17 will begin seeing greater safety measures put in place, including turning in-app messaging off by default.
Racist abuse through Euro 2020 analysed by Twitter: 99% of the posts Twitter had to remove came from real people (ie non anonymous, but rather bullies and racists) and most of the posts came from the UK. I find this kind of info of huge importance to understanding where such vile behaviour comes from, and how to make strides to stop it happening in the future.
Instagram launches anti hate speech controls: in the aftermath of The Euros, above, ‘the update is designed to protect its users, particularly creators and public features, from seeing harassing, racist, homophobic and sexist content in comments and DM requests.’
US politician suspended from Twitter: for repeated Covid misinformation posts.
Reddit is now worth $10bn: forums are hot property, and Reddit has just secured $410m in new investment, valuing it at the princely sum of 10 unicorns.
Is it fair that Facebook has a monopoly on Gifs? Did you know Facebook owns Giphy? The UK’s CMA thinks it could be anti-competitive.
Facebook ads may be changing: the social network says that a ‘meaningful’ pivot is on its way, and privacy could be the reason.
A fascinating report into community NFT projects: “Earlier this week, I got attacked by penguins,” writes the NY Times’ Kevin Roose. A look at how initiatives like Pudgy Penguins have become a new kind of financial and social status symbol on the internet. Linked: “someone made $600K flipping a penguin NFT… because it faced the other way”!
Creators leaving Snapchat’s spotlight feature: payments are reportedly drying up.
Is the creator economy in a crisis? a long read on how decentralised social media has impacted creators, likening many to gig economy workers.
Salesforce to launch corporate content streaming: like Discovery+ or Sky+ but for CRM, with a 50-person team behind it. What’s not to love.
The business of pirate video sites: according to a study of over 6,000 pirated movies and TV sites / apps has shown that they rake in $1.3B per year from ads.
Facebook’s US offices will not reopen until January: I’m genuinely fascinated by how high-performing tech and digital teams are working. Facebook’s office plans have flip-flopped a fair bit in recent months.
Amazon to track staff for security reasons: “Amazon plans to monitor keyboard strokes and mouse movements of customer service staff to stop rogue workers or hackers accessing customer data.”
The Social Media Report is written by Drew Benvie, founder & CEO of Battenhall.