Seth Gozar, Alex Justice, Moon Ja, Tammy Cao
Dr. Julie Merten | Brooks College of Health | Department of Public Health
Background: With more than 300 million active users, Twitter has become a platform to consume and share political rhetoric and popular science opinion. With long-held concerns of nuclear disasters, radioactive waste, and economic sustainability, nuclear energy is a particularly polarizing topic on Twitter.
Purpose: This study used directed content analysis to examine how nuclear energy is portrayed on Twitter, a popular social media microblogging website.
Methods: Using the search terms “nuclear energy” and “nuclear power,” researchers sampled tweets in the “Top” category, skipping 25 non-relevant tweets, for a total of 400 relevant tweets. A codebook was developed, pilot tested, and used to analyze themes.
Results: Of the sample, 27% positively portrayed nuclear energy and 27% portrayed it negatively. Nearly half of the tweets (47%) had a balanced portrayal of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy was discussed in a political sense in 37% of tweets with 73% of the tweets containing factually correct information and the remaining 27% containing misinformation.
Conclusion: Twitter users hold a wide spectrum of perspectives on the use, benefits, and effects of nuclear energy as a widespread energy source. The topic of nuclear energy is often weaponized for numerous causes such as environmentalism or political debates. Researchers reinforced their observation that nuclear energy and nuclear energy are one of many topics discussed on Twitter daily.