Thousands of scientists are cutting back on Twitter, seeding angst and uncertainty
Emilia Jarochowska joined Twitter in 2016 in the hope that it might help to enhance her career. She was finishing her PhD in palaeontology at the time, and felt that the platform would help her to connect with colleagues and find job opportunities. But that was, she says, before the platform became a “sea of bad trolls”.
Last December, after much consideration and several experiences of fighting misinformation on climate change and COVID-19, Jarochowska closed her account, feeling that her reputation could be at risk if she kept using the platform. She felt that Twitter was promoting provocative discourse over facts and encouraging a type of controversy that “is not what scientists should be associated with”, she says.
A survey conducted by Nature suggests that Jarochowska, now at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, is far from alone in curtailing her use of the platform. Since entrepreneur Elon Musk took control in October 2022, he has made a series of largely unpopular changes to Twitter, including cutting down on content moderation; ditching its ‘blue-check’ verification system in favour of one that grants paying members additional clout and privileges; charging money for access to data for research; limiting the number of tweets users can see; and abruptly changing the platform’s name and familiar logo to simply ‘X’. His management has left scientists reconsidering the value of X, and many seem to be leaving.