Social Composition of #climatehoax
One other important consideration for #climatehoax that has yet to be explored is the demographics of its supporters? Is there are a particular social group that is most active on social media against the global conspiracy? Unfortunately obtaining quantitative scientific evidence is outside the scope of my ability but I was able to examine who some of the most active users are. On both Facebook and Reddit, most content is posted by a small minority of very active users. Searching through the profiles and past posts of these users I was able to get a rough idea of some of the characteristics of a climate change denier. It is important to note here that I came to this analysis with a predisposed idea of who the most prominent climate skeptics were. In the analog world, I have only known middle class older white males of the middle class to truly adhere to the concept that climate change is a global conspiracy or otherwise fallacious. Given my previous notions, I was curious to see whether this social group also predominated on social media or perhaps younger more tech savvy denialists were holding the ground.
One of the most apparent demographic characteristics is that there are essentially no women in the climate hoax groups, at least judging my the names on Facebook. #climatehoax is clearly a male dominated issue. Unsurprisingly, most users were also staunch conservatives and did not limit their posts to climate-related issues. Many also posted memes or other content supporting Trump and deriding Clinton and President Obama. There were a few users that seemed solely dedicated to #climatehoax though, and a few prominent users were ostensibly from foreign countries like Australian and Germany. Finally, all of the users that uploaded pictures of themselves were indeed white. I saw no pro climate hoax users that belonged to minority groups. The only unclear factor was whether the age of climate hoax proponents. Despite that lack of knowledge of average age, the climate hoax supports on social media are almost unanimously white males.
Tone of Climate Change Denialism on Social Media
In the past blog posts, I examined the activity around #climatehoax on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and to a lesser extent Youtube. With the insights gained from looking at the activity on each platform, it is now possible to make a few generalizations about #climatehoax.
The first is that despite being an issue that one might presume rests on scientific evidence, it plays a negligible role for the climate hoax community. For climate hoax proponents, the scientific evidence is not a valid resource because it is coming from a corrupt collusion of greedy researchers and power-hungry liberal politicians. In this type of conspiratorial world view, objective facts, such as the observable changing climate, carry little significance. Anecdotal evidence of unusually cold weather phenomena seems to be of much greater consequence.
The second generalization that can be made is that in lieu of fact-based arguments, the climate hoax conversation is highly polemical and directed against climate change proponents. For example:
And a comment below:
On Reddit, in particular, many comments are directed at more of a personal level, towards the average user who is concerned about climate change. The following comment is by “logicalprogressive”, on of r/climateskeptics most ardent members.
The final generalization is the heavy reliance on new media blogs and news sources. Frequently linked sources are from the likes of realclimatescience.com (a blog), gwpf.com (Global Warming Policy Forum), and breitbart.com. One source that seemed unusually popular in climate hoax related groups is whatsupwiththat.com. This is the same blog that initially popularized the “Climategate” email scandals. It will be interesting to see how the top sources on the climate change advocacy groups compare with #climatehoax.