Study shows social media content material opens new frontiers for sustainability science researchers

A virtuous cycle for social media (SM) information and sustainability via transparency, inclusivity, and accountable information use. Credit: A single Earth (2023). DOI: ten.1016/j.oneear.2023.02.008

With a lot more than half of the world’s population active on social media networks, user-generated information has proved to be fertile ground for social scientists who study attitudes about the atmosphere and sustainability.

But a number of challenges threaten the results of what is recognized as social media information science. The main concern, according to a new study from an international analysis group, is restricted access to information resulting from restrictive terms of service, shutdown of platforms, information manipulation, censorship and regulations.

The study, published in the journal A single Earth, is the initial recognized to evaluate the scope of environmental social media analysis and its possible to transform sustainability science. The 17-member analysis group analyzed 415 research, published in between 2011 and 2021, that examined social media content material connected to the atmosphere.

“Tips about climate alter and our atmosphere are increasingly coming from social media,” stated Derek Van Berkel, assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s College for Atmosphere and Sustainability and 1 of the study’ 3 lead authors. “On-line communities like Reddit, or merely news stories shared by your mates on Facebook, have come to be digital landscapes exactly where lots of tips are shaped and formed.”

Understanding how these tips are shaped aids science communicators in honing environmental messaging and prompts them to fill gaps exactly where information and facts is lacking or misrepresented.

In spite of the possible public added benefits of social media information science, the authors argue, existing small business models of social media platforms have generated a vicious cycle in which user information is treated as a private asset that can be bought or sold for profit. This has raised public concern and mistrust of social media corporations, top to a higher demand for a lot more regulation.

The study supports the thought of replacing this vicious cycle with a “virtuous cycle.”

“A virtuous cycle demands the collaboration of SM corporations, researchers, and the public,” stated co-lead study author Johannes Langemeyer from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technologies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

“For their aspect, sustainability researchers can foster a lot more trust and cooperation by embracing higher ethical requirements. Inclusivity, transparency, privacy protection, and accountable use of the information are crucial requirements—and will lead to an enhanced standardization of analysis practices moving forward,” Langemeyer stated.

A promising instance of cooperation from a social media platform was initiated in January 2021 when Twitter set a new normal for broader access to researchers by introducing a new academic analysis solution track, which for the initial time permitted totally free complete-archive searches for authorized researchers.

Such an strategy could have served as a model for wider open access across social media platforms. But confirming the fears of researchers, Twitter lately announced that as of Feb. 9, 2023, the business will no longer assistance totally free access.

“SM information has the possible to usher in a revolution in the existing practices of sustainability analysis, specifically in the social sciences, with an influence on par with that of Earth observation in the environmental sciences,” stated co-lead study author Andrea Ghermandi from the Division of Organic Sources and Environmental Management at the University of Haifa in Israel.

The study concludes that social media information assessments can assistance the 2015 U.N. Sustainable Improvement Ambitions that serve as a universal get in touch with to action to finish poverty, defend the planet, and guarantee that by 2030 all people today delight in peace and prosperity.

“Attaining the U.N. Sustainable Improvement Ambitions will need massive-scale, multi-nation efforts as properly as granular information for tailoring sustainability efforts,” the study authors wrote.

“The shared values and targets of functioning for a sustainable future may perhaps deliver widespread ground for the cooperation necessary to totally understand the contribution that SM information delivers.”

Additional information and facts:
Andrea Ghermandi et al, Social media information for environmental sustainability: A crucial overview of possibilities, threats, and ethical use, A single Earth (2023). DOI: ten.1016/j.oneear.2023.02.008

Journal information and facts:
A single Earth

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