It feels like not a day can go by without an 𝕏 scandal. The platform has recently become a scorching hotbed of disinformation, climate denial and bots. Many have been hurt and burnt in the process. Thousands of climate scientists have already left. In fact, almost half of regular American green tweeters have gone quiet. Many are seeking safety in smaller, greener pastures like Threads, Bluesky and Mastodon. Some have asked me to join them. Yet, despite the challenges, there's an enormous potential for community organising on 𝕏. So, here's why I am staying and how you too can harness this turbulent storm towards collective action.
1. Be The News
Twitter's power for agenda-setting is unparalleled. Most politicians and media outlets have employees dedicated to surveying the platform. They synthesise key posts, give briefings and thereby prioritise their news coverage. With our massive online communities we can get our foot in that meeting room door. This month we sent a climate scientist's post straight to the Guardian frontpage. “I’m still struggling to comprehend how a single year can jump so much compared to previous years” it leads. Many other outlets used Climate Twitter quotes like “Gobsmackingly bananas” to describe the phenomenon. Just like that, we turned crucial scientific data into a meme. We leveraged 𝕏’s reach and shaped public discourse. That’s no small feat. Next, we must sharpen our effectiveness. We must focus not just on the disasters but also on those responsible.
ACTION: Boost the memes of climate scientists like
@DrJamesEHansen and researchers like @LeonSimons8
2. Challenge Corporate Media
Twitter remains the epicentre of politics and media discussion. To be part of it, we must engage with policymakers and journalists directly. Even if that means working on Big Tech platforms we disagree with. That's where we have a voice to subvert the mainstream environmental coverage lies. For example, sympathy and signups for Just Stop Oil skyrocketed after a TalkTV debate. The Murdoch-owned station presenter bizarrely claimed "You can grow concrete" to a sustainable builder. Within minutes, the ludicrous clip went viral. People could see the bullshit we are up against for what it was, baseless denial.
ACTION: Share the media criticism of @TTTMediaXR & @MediaLens (UK) + @DeSmog & @MMFA (USA)
3. Deflate Deniers
Twitter ranks worst for Climate Disinformation among social media. Recently, hashtags like #ClimateScam have surged. I admit, it's tempting to tackle these falsehoods head-on or run to the door. Yet, in reality, you would only be fighting a swarm of bots and conspiracists or fleeing to a smaller echo chamber. It's futile. As scientist Julia Steinberg notes, eventually it "becomes a full-time job".
Instead, we must learn that there is a power in ignoring the online deniers. After all, engaging will often only amplify their message even further. Vested interests have paid bots to oxygenate their lies. Our rebuttals won't change that. Blue Ticks won’t change that. The only way is to challenge those vested interests. How? We must focus our precious energy on what will make a difference - the mobilisation of resistance.
ACTION: Stick to the “Following” tab. Block intrusive deniers. Join safer community spaces like Climate Twitter and Just Stop Oil Supporters.
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4. Mobilise, Mobilise, Mobilise
Twitter is the hub of breaking news. Other platforms compete for communities but not for news. On a platform like Mastodon, the news is slower and often preaches to the choir. With Twitter there's a chance of breaking into a bigger, more powerful audience.
That's the audience we want to reach. The shock of reading climate science news creates a small window of opportunity. For that moment, you have their attention and emotional investment. Seize that chance to offer them a concrete pathway to change.
For a chance of mass mobilisation, we need to meet ordinary people where they are. Then we offer them a tangible roadmap out of this mess.
ACTION: Add pathway-to-action links in your tweets! Although the algorithm generally dislikes links you can put them in your bio, pinned to your profile and at the bottom of a thread. I recommend adding “Sign up to civil resistance at juststopoil.org”
5. Global Solidarity
During the Arab Spring, Twitter became a vital source of activist updates and coordination. Recently it was the foremost activist community in Nigeria against police brutality. If we jump platforms, we’d only be leaving those communities of resistance behind. They don’t have the time to be pulled around the various smaller alternatives. Many rely on Twitter to share the horrific injustice they face. It’s our responsibility to keep sharing it.
ACTION: Connect with Global South leaders like @Studenteacop, the Uganda Justice Movement, @JusticeUg256 and @STOPMAANGAMIZI
Staying on 𝕏 isn't just about weathering the storm. It's about actively shaping the whirlwinds of news into collective action and community. By challenging the corporate media we can push humanity’s survival to its rightful place. The top of the agenda.
- The Dutch did it!
After a month of blocking the A12 highway, the Dutch Parliament has now voted for a motion to investigate cutting fossil fuel subsidies. This is how civil resistance works! Congratulations to all involved and cheering from the sidelines 🎇
- Just Stop Oil Students
In the build up to 3 weeks of action in November, students have been giving our fossil fuel campuses a makeover. Falmouth, Exeter, Oxford, Cambridge and even my very own Bristol University have all been painted orange to mark their fossil fuel alliances. This is just the warm up!
If you liked this article, please share it and subscribe for more. We need to build an online presence, not hide in the niches. I'm a new blogger so I welcome all comments and feedback from your bright minds on this controversial suggestion.