Fuelling the climate and science ‘denial machine’ on social media: A case study of the Great Barrier Reef’s 2021 ‘in danger’ recommendation on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook

Lubicz-Zaorski, Carly, Newlands, Maxine, and Petray, Theresa (2024) Fuelling the climate and science ‘denial machine’ on social media: A case study of the Great Barrier Reef’s 2021 ‘in danger’ recommendation on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Public Understanding of Science, 33 (3). pp. 270-289.

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Abstract

Australian climate policy has been stifled by a network of free-market and extractive industry-advocating actors, yet there is little empirical evidence to show how these actors and information flows behave in online communication spaces during Australian environmental conflicts. Focusing on the UNESCO 2021 ‘in danger’ recommendation for the Great Barrier Reef for 6 weeks, this mixed-methods study of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube uses social network analysis, including cluster analysis and in-depth close reading. We find that a small, yet significant, mix of ideologically aligned partisan actors are fuelling the ‘denial machine’ in Australia by co-opting a scientific report’s findings to argue that the Great Barrier Reef has recovered, and to contest the need for climate action. This article offers insights into the central actors and tactics that could erode public support for Australian climate policy, with similarities to strategies already established in the United States. It also contributes to furthering multi-platform analyses.

Item ID: 80440
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1361-6609
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2023 04:51
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4701 Communication and media studies > 470102 Communication technology and digital media studies @ 50%
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4701 Communication and media studies > 470103 Environmental communication @ 50%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1302 Communication > 130204 The media @ 100%
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