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How social media drives the climate agenda: COP27 and the influence of Twitter



Social media threatening press freedom: Nobel laureate

Social media. — © AFP

The 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27) is about to begin, hosted by the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt (running between November 6th and 18th, 2022). The focus is in bringing together the United Nations, businesses, the scientific community, indigenous and local communities and civil society to jointly enhance and accelerate the implementation of climate action and follow up on the collective commitments and pledges made at COP26.

In the run-up to the conference, it is notable that Twitter influencer conversations have started piling up and as a result there has been a 150 percent growth around the term  ‘COP27’ (when September 2022 is compared with October 2022). This is based on data compiled by the Social Media Analytics Platform of GlobalData.

The highest rise in Twitter influencer conversations was recorded in the last week of October, when the latest report of UN Climate Change stated that the global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase by 10.6 percent by 2030 (as baselined on 2010 levels).  

Another surge in influencer conversations was witnessed in the first week of October, when the sponsorship of The Coca-Cola Company for COP27 event faced Twitter influencers’ backlash. A few environmental activists have slammed the company for greenwashing and demanded the UNFCCC to remove the company from sponsorship.

For example, Emma Priestland, a coordinator for Break Free From Plastic, a global alliance of organisations and individuals, said: “Coca-Cola sponsoring the Cop27 is pure ‘greenwash’. Coca-Cola is one of the world’s biggest users of plastic.”

In terms of the leading Twitter influencers and the key role they have played in bringing COP27 to public attention, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at World Health Organization with a global score of 89, has emerged as the top voice on Twitter around COP27.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General at World Health Organization:

“As we prepare for #COP27, remember that our fossil-fuel addiction costs lives & damages physical & mental health, esp. of young people. We must invest in more mental health support for communities dealing with climate-related hazards. #WorldMentalHealthDay”

Other leading voices are Ketan Joshi, a freelance writer on climate and energy returns to the Coca-Cola issue:

“Should serve as a very glaring warning to any company gearing up their greenwashing machine for COP27: you are being watched. And you are going to face consequences, if you lie about yourselves.”

Javier Blas, Energy and commodities columnist at Bloomberg:

“It’s just over a month for #COP27, and Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser, tongue in cheek, has a particular view about the energy transition: “If you think about it, we are transitioning to coal” (According to the @IEA, global coal demand will rise to a fresh all-time high in 2023)”

In addition, other influential environmental commentator are: Peter Kalmus, Climate Scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and Mike Hudemand, Director of Communications at Canopy Planet.

The information relating to Twitter influencers has been provided to Digital Journal by Smitarani Tripathy, Social Media Analyst at GlobalData.

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Instagram Tests More BeReal-Like Elements as it Looks to Lean Into the Authentic Social Shift



Instagram Tests More BeReal-Like Elements as it Looks to Lean Into the Authentic Social Shift

Will the BeReal process of posting an image of whatever you might be doing at a specific moment of the day end up becoming a lasting social media trend, or will it fade out, like many viral shifts before it?

It feels, in some ways, like it’s already waning – though BeReal did win App of the Year on both the Apple and Google (‘Users Choice’ category) stores for 2022. So there’s that – and overall, there is also a sense that BeReal has showcased an underlying trend in social, that people have had enough of the airbrushed, edited, sculpted personas that people present in their every upload and comment online.

It all feels a bit staged, and BeReal eliminates that, in a creative way. But what’s next for BeReal, as an app? Is there anything more that can be done with that concept?

Is there anything that other apps can do with it – and is it worthy of further exploration?

Instagram’s certainly giving it a shot.

After trying out a very BeReal-esque feature called ‘Candid’ earlier this year, Instagram is now also developing some similar features, focused on different elements within the app.

First off, Instagram’s working on something called ‘Roll Call’ which would enable group chat members to request that all participants add a photo or video of themselves to the chat within 5 minutes.

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Roll Call is effectively a small-scale version of BeReal, within an enclosed group chat, as opposed to sending the request to all of your contacts.

Instagram Roll Call example

Instagram’s also working on ‘Glimpse’ Stories, which works exactly like BeReal, in using the front and back cameras to show what you’re up to at any given time.

Instagram Glimpse example

As you’ll note in both of these variations, they require participation, just like BeReal, with the images or videos posted only made visible to those who’ve also submitted their own contribution to the Roll Call/Glimpse.

Could that work, and become a more significant trend on IG, if indeed either feature is ever actually released?

I mean, maybe.

Again, BeReal has seen a massive surge in downloads this year, so there’s clearly interest in such functionality, and really, the BeReal process is more of a feature than a platform in itself, so it could also make more sense as a complementary element within Instagram or some other app, than as a separate app of its own.

But it also feels like a bit of a fad that people will tire of – an antidote to the artificiality that now dominates the main apps, but which doesn’t actually change them, or the way we use the more popular apps, as such.

Which is the real challenge. While there is clearly a desire for more genuine, honest communication within social apps, the big platforms already play such a significant role in our daily process that it’s going to be difficult to usurp them, while it’s also hard to resist the entertainment value of TikTok for distraction and engagement, veering away from social connection.

How do you make the mundane more interesting, and a more significant aspect, when it’s more of a curiosity, a fleeting interest to make you feel more connected, but not a longer-term engagement element within itself?

The unfortunate truth that all social apps have eventually shown us is that we’re all pretty boring. Most of us don’t lead amazing, glamorous lives worthy of constant documentation, which is what’s eventually led to more people portraying enhanced versions of their existence to glean more likes and interest from others in this constructed digital engagement sphere.

That’s then gone even further, into image editing and blatant distortions of reality, in all respects, which has then led people to question more of what they’re seeing, while on another front, friends and family sharing their political opinions has forced us to see sides to them that we never knew, and in many cases, didn’t really need to find out about.

Which is what’s then set the scene for an app like BeReal to come in, and show us, in a relatable, human way, that we’re actually much more closely aligned than these increasingly false or distorted depictions may suggest.

That feels like the seed of a new shift, a new way of approaching social media interaction – but thus far, that’s as far as we’ve got. There’s just not much else you can do to build on that concept, and lean into that trend.

Maybe it’ll spark the next industry shift, and maybe it’ll be Instagram or TikTok or some other established app that will crack the code and find the best way forward on this front (I’d argue that Snapchat’s focus on connection among friends is most closely aligned with this shift, as a general app approach).

But right now, it feels like a limited element, a glimmer of what could be in amongst the broader social media cacophony.   

Instagram might make more of a push to see what happens, but it may need something more to evolve this into a bigger element.  

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