Greenwashing as grassroots or no roots social movement

A multi-platform approach to social media monitoring of hashtag activism


  • Neil Alperstein Loyola University Maryland


greenwashing, Hashtag activism, social media monitoring, social movements, climate change


This article discusses the use of the #greenwashing hashtag around the issues of sustainability, climate change, and other environmental concerns of which greenwashing is a part. The article addresses the question of whether anti-greenwashing constitutes an organized social movement or is a grassroots effort that follows the ebb and flow of events as they arise and fall during the year? The multi-platform approach taken in this study analyses the discourse around key topics driving #greenwashing exploring the issue of greenwashing through an analysis of social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter, as well as an analysis of the spread of greenwashing related stories on news media. The findings demonstrate that interest in greenwashing is tied to key events during the year, like Earth Day and COP26 but that interest is diminished to “normal” levels at other times. The absence of toxicity in the language of social media posts does not support strategic amplification, a tactic to boost interest in an issue, and an analysis of the polarity of sentiment regarding social media posts did not find support in either negative or positive feelings expressed.

Author Biography

Neil Alperstein, Loyola University Maryland

Director and Professor, MA in Emerging Media

Department of Communication


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