Jill Hopke

Environmental Communication. Social Movements. Mobile Media.

Tag: social media (page 1 of 3)

Social Media Conversation about COP24 Katowice Less Hopeful and More Radical than COP21 Paris

The annual UN climate negotiations, COP24concluded Saturday in Katowice, Poland with an agreement to bring the much heralded 2015 Paris accord to limit global greenhouse emissions into force. There is a stark disconnect between what would be required for nations to ramp up their climate commitments by 2020 and the lower level of public conversation these climate talks garnered.

I attended week one of the talks as an observer participant on the behalf the IECA. If the 2015 Paris climate summit ended with a message of hope and resolve to collectively stem dangerous anthropogenic interference, COP24 underscored the importance of domestic politics for climate policy.

The change in national political contexts on the part of not only the United States but also Brazil was fully apparent. The “Yellow Vests,” or “gilets jaunes,” protests that have rocked France, a key player in advancing global climate action, since mid-November also highlight the critical nature of public support for domestic climate policies and that such policies must include mechanisms to blunt their impact.

#COP24 social media posts word cloud, as generated by Crimson Hexagon.

The deal struck in Katowice will require nations to report both their greenhouse gas emissions and progress towards nationally-determined reductions biennially starting in 2024. For a detailed overview of the key outcomes of COP24, check out reporting from the UK-based CarbonBrief.

“Urgency” could have been the word of this COP, or perhaps, “disillusionment” with a political process that has enabled decades of delay. The world turned away from binding emissions targets with the failure of the United States to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Now the emissions gap between what nations are voluntarily pledging to do in terms of emissions reductions and what would be required has caught up with us.   

One thing that strikes me most from attending this COP is that the UNFCCC climate regime process seems designed to allow countries to collectively push decisions further into the future, such as a question of double-counting carbon credits. Yet, delays are not possible now with the increasingly urgent warnings from climate scientists.

Less Hopeful Social Media Conversation than Paris

Now that the Katowice climate conference has concluded I wanted to see how social media about this year’s round of negotiations stacked up against the 2015 Paris climate talks.

In order to answer this question I collected a series of social media conversation streams for the time periods of one day before the start of each COP to one day following their respective conclusion in the data analytic software Crimson Hexagon. Sources I pulled from include: Twitter, YouTube, reddit, blogs, forums, Tumblr and news.

To compare general climate change conversation to that about COP21 and COP24 respectively, I set up five sets of searches:

  1. Climate change general search terms: #climate, #climatechange, “climate change,” “global warming” and #globalwarming. Excluding: COP21, #COP21, #cop21paris, “conference of parties,” #COP24, COP24, #COP24Katowice, #TalanoaDialogue, #Talanoa4Ambition and #TakeYourSeat.
  2. Climate activists search terms: #klimatstrejk, #climatestrike, #keepitintheground, #climatejustice, #climatemarch, #justtransition, #marchCOP24, #climatealarm,  #MarszdlaKlimatu, #MarchaPorElClima, #MarcheClimat and #ExtinctionRebellion.
  3. COP24 search terms: #COP24, COP24, #COP24Katowice, #TalanoaDialogue, #Talanoa4Ambition, #TakeYourSeat and #ParisAgreement (2018 only).
  4. COP21 search terms: #ParisClimateConference, COP21, #COP21, #cop21paris and #ParisAgreement (2015 only).
  5. Search terms for the French “Yellow Vests” protests: “gilets jaunes,” #giletsjaunes and #yellowvests (2018 only).

Not surprisingly given that defining the “rulebook” for the Paris accord implementation was technical and revolves around often complicated details, the volume of COP21 posts vastly outnumbered that of COP24. The Paris climate talks garnered more than 4.7 million posts, the majority of which were on Twitter (94%). On Twitter the 2015 UN climate conference had a reach of a staggering 47 billion total potential impressions, as calculated by the Crimson Hexagon software. In comparison, the COP24 Katowice climate negotiations were discussed in more than one million posts, far less than three years prior, with a still impressive reach on Twitter of 11 billion potential impressions, though down significantly.  

The top Twitter posts for the 2015 and 2018 climate talks indicate a shift in tone from hope to warning of danger. The most retweeted, or amplified, Twitter post about the Paris climate talks came from former U.S. president Barack Obama: “This is huge: Almost every country in the world just signed on to the #ParisAgreement on climate change—thanks to American leadership.”

In contrast, the most retweeted Twitter post of the Katowice talks was from the BBC (@BBCWorld): “We’re facing a man-made disaster of global scale… time is running out” – Sir David Attenborough issues warning at UN Climate Conference #COP24 in Poland http://bbc.in/2Pd3yfP.” Some of the most retweeted 2018 Twitter posts came from 15-year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (see here and here), as well as the Dalai Lama.

The “Yellow Vests” Movement Overshadows COP24

During the Paris climate summit, activists used social media to amplify climate justice and to call for the more ambitious target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) that was included in the final text of the Paris Agreement. Again with this year’s UN climate negotiations, activists seeking in influence the COP agenda and outcome turned to social media to amplify their messages. During COP24 youth activism for radical tactics took center stage within activist social media with school strike for climate and the Extinction Rebellion movement which got its start earlier this year in the United Kingdom.

During COP21, posts mentioning the talks made up nearly two-thirds of conversation as compared to climate change generally. For the more recent climate talks, COP24 made up less than a third of the share of conversation, as compared to climate change generally. For both COPs, climate activists made up 4% of the share of voice.

Overall, social media conversation about COP24 was far overshadowed by the French “Yellow Vests,” or “gilets jaunes,” protests. During the time period of COP24, the “Yellow Vests” were mentioned in more than eight million social posts, with a reach of 40 billion potential impressions, as measured by the Crimson Hexagon software. In terms of post volume, this surpasses the 2015 COP21 conversation; rivaling it in terms of reach. With the “Yellow Vests” conversation added in COP24 made up far less of the social media conversation.

Energy Democracy Means All of Us

The dominance of the “Yellow Vests” conversation on social media as compared to COP24, climate activists and climate change generally over the time period of the UNFCCC summit can be considered a form of what I term “disruptive social media virality” by individuals who collectively perceive themselves as outsiders to decision-making processes on climate policy and who are directly impacted by these same policies.

The “Yellow Vests” movement underscores that energy justice needs to be part of the conversation on climate policy at the national and international levels for lasting systems change. As climate change communicators we need to connect the issues at stake to everyday life in ways that are meaningful. Along with that economic justice as an essential aspect of climate justice has to be part of that dialogue and has to be included in policies for energy sector transformation.

This blog post originally appeared on the International Environmental Communication Association’s (IECA) “One Planet Talking” blog.

DePaul University spring 2018 online journalism courses in “Social Media and the News”

I will be teaching an online undergraduate and graduate course in “Social Media and the News” at DePaul University in the spring term.

If you are an instructor at another university, or a student interested in enrolling in either the undergraduate or graduate sections, please feel free to contact me with any questions. The course overview is below.


Graduate Section

JOUR 542: Social Media and the News

DePaul University, College of Communication

Section 301, Class # 36412, Spring Quarter 2018


Undergraduate Section

JOUR 376 “Topics in Journalism”: Social Media and the News

DePaul University, College of Communication

Section 601, Class # 32402 , Spring Quarter 2018


Instructor: Dr. Jill Hopke, Assistant Professor of Journalism

Contact: jhopke@depaul.edu (I strive to respond to emails within one business day, excluding weekends); 312-362-7641 (office)

Office location: 1123 Daley, 14 E. Jackson, Loop Campus

Office hours: TBA (and by email appointment)

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jillhopke

Twitter: @jillhopke

Course Description

Journalists use mobile devices and social media in newsgathering, distributing content and engagement with active audiences. This course blends the theory and practice of social media to provide you will a hands-on introduction to, and practice on, a digital-first approach to journalism. We will analyze and apply a range of social and mobile media tools.

This course has a duel purpose:

  • On a skills level, you’ll be able to hone your professional social media practice and to build your technical skills with social media apps and platforms. By the end of the quarter you’ll have an online professional portfolio and should have developed a “voice” on social platforms for your professional self; and
  • We will put a critical lens to social journalism and develop a grounding in social media and news concepts and the application of journalistic ethics to mobile and social media, that you can then apply as you embark on your career in this ever-evolving field.

The course covers emerging theory on social media, including: networked gatekeeping, social listening as applied to journalism, audience engagement and analytics, citizen journalism, visual storytelling, best practices for content curation and covering breaking news events with social tools, as well as verification of social content and ethics. You will develop and implement a professional social media strategy, practice with a variety of mobile journalism and social media tools and curate an online professional portfolio. For your final project, you’ll conduct a social media audit and develop a professional social media plan.

Learning Objectives

Our learning objectives for the quarter:

  • Develop a “mobile-first” mindset for your reporting and mobile newsgathering technical skills;
  • Describe the changing role of audiences and the impact on journalism;
  • Be able to assess user-generated content (UGC) from social media apps and platforms and locate reliable information from social media to use in your reporting;
  • Design and actively manage your personal professional “brand” on social media;
  • Demonstrate the use of audience analytics to improve your professional social media strategy;
  • Assess the effectiveness of news organizations social media strategies and policies;
  • Identify how the core journalistic concepts of verification and objectivity apply to mobile journalism and social media;
  • Analyze future trends in social, “digital-first” journalism; and
  • Complete the Facebook for Journalists Certificate (joint with the Poynter Institute).

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Research on social media about Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline

Next week I’ll be presenting new research, conducted with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Molly Simis-Wilkinson and Patty Loew, at the 2017 Conference on Communication and the Environment (COCE) at the University of Leicester in the UK. The full conference schedule is available here.

Research to be presented at the 2017 Conference on Communication and Environment (COCE), July 1, 2017, University of Leicester.

In fall 2016, violent images of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest near the Standing Rock Reservation stunned the world. Facebook users saw security guards sic attack dogs on Native women and children and police fire water cannons at praying protesters in subfreezing temperatures. However, the issue had not gained widespread mainstream media and public attention until the 1,172-mile pipeline was nearly complete, after more than two years of opposition from the tribe. It wasn’t until activists shared violent images on social media that public outrage forced policymakers to act. We argue that activities which heighten public attention to an issue through social media amplification constitute what we call disruptive public participation, which may empower activists and help “outsiders” become “insiders” in decision-making.

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