How Are Social Media ‘Echo Chambers’ Influencing Climate Views in Faith Communities?

Social media is a powerful tool. There is a good chance that you found this blog through one of the many platforms that host the instantaneous sharing of information. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have become part of our daily discussions, particularly when it comes to faith. As a Pew Research report found that, "One-in-five Americans share their religious faith online." But a growing number of online climate deniers use these platforms to share misinformation in what the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences calls an 'echo chamber.' 

The Academy shared on Monday, "[Social media] is a powerful force that many researchers have suggested plays a key role in the persistence of phenomena such as climate doubt. With an overwhelming abundance of evidence pointing to the existence of anthropogenic climate change, for instance, many scientists have questioned why skepticism continues to be pervasive in society."

These echo chambers present an interesting insight into how we talk about climate change online. Many of us use these platforms to express how our faith compels us to act on climate but are these appeals limited to our own echo chambers. If we hope to effectively encourage other Americans to act on climate, we must reach beyond our immediate groups and continually share sound information from experts that ground their finding in facts. Reach out to a broader audience and share with them why your faith encourages you to care for creation.

Here’s how scientific misinformation, such as climate doubt, spreads through social media

Chelsea Harvey | The Washington Post 

Social media is no doubt a powerful force when it comes to the sharing of information and ideas; the problem is that not every article shared on Facebook or Twitter is true. Misinformation, conspiracy theories and rumors abound on the Internet, helping to propagate and support sentiments such as climate doubt and other forms of environmental and scientific skepticism.

Figuring out how such ideas diffuse through social media may be key to scientists and science communicators alike as they look for ways to better reach the public and change the minds of those who reject their information. A study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences sheds new light on the factors that influence the spread of misinformation online.

The researchers conclude that the diffusion of content generally takes place within clusters of users known as “echo chambers” — polarized communities that tend to consume the same types of information. For instance, a person who shares a conspiracy theory online is typically connected to a network of other users who also tend to consume and share the same types of conspiracy theories. This structure tends to keep the same ideas circulating within communities of people who already subscribe to them, a phenomenon that both reinforces the worldview within the community and makes members more resistant to information that doesn’t fit with their beliefs.

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