Carolin Schuster, Technische Universität - München

This research endeavor aims at contributing to the understanding of the dynamics of the climate change discourse in the online sphere. It intends to track the diffusion of skepticism and falsehoods and to also analyze their impacts on climate change governance.  In focus will be the German Twitter sphere with the examples of the shitstorms against Greta Thunberg and the German expansion of ‘Fridays for Future’, which pose current and important research opportunities, and the next COP in Madrid. To process the necessarily vast amounts of social media data the latest deep learning methodology will be employed. Particularly, an artificial neural network will be trained to classify social media content according to climate change scepticism, enabling its quantification. Skeptic themes will be tracked over time and their emergence and attention peeks will be discussed in light of thematic events. Moreover, the consequences will be elucidated by the analysis of the participating political actors and public figures as well as the triggers of their participation. To look beyond individual political accounts, label propagation will be employed to identify the most likely party affiliation of all accounts involved in this social media discourse. This overview will enable the analysis of any political polarization based on the issue of climate change.