Sometimes, we humans aren’t as complicated as one might think.
Case in point: New research from Germany finds that when the temperature outside gets hotter or colder than our typical comfort zone, the online world tends to get crabby.
Scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research analyzed billions of tweets posted on Twitter, a popular social media platform.
They used an artificial intelligence algorithm to link some 4 billion tweets with weather data. When temperatures were in a more moderate range, about 54 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, hate speech was tempered.
The researchers identified about 75 million hate-tweets from the six years from 2014 to 2020. Tweets were deemed hateful if they used discriminatory language aimed at someone based on their ethnicity, religion, race, nationality, skin color, descent, gender or other factor.
When temperatures were colder than normal, hate speech rose about 12%. When they were hotter than normal in a particular region, hateful tweets were about 22% more prevalent.
And when the temperature went above 86 degrees Fahrenheit? Everyone, anywhere in the Twittersphere, was more inclined to lash out.
Is it really such a big deal that a social media platform’s emotional temperature rises in tandem with extreme temperatures?
The researchers believe it is. One characteristic of ongoing climate change is more extreme temperatures. And social media hate is known to be damaging to mental health, especially for the young and those in marginalized groups.
One bright note in the study: We can all get along — assuming the temperature hovers between 59- and 65-degrees Fahrenheit.