Invasive species: an NGO discovers a unexpected connection to geopolitics and race 

 

An Environmental NGO asked us to share what the Twitterverse was saying about invasive species.  This map reveals all Tweets about invasive species appearing the same week the killer hornets arrived in North America.  The hornet story's appearance next to "bee angst" was not a surprise, since the hornets are known to attack bee colonies.  However, the appearance of an anti-China cluster with hostile and race related overtones came as a surprise. 

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A time series analysis suggests that the hornets story and the anti-China narrative were linked, as tweets within each rose in tandem.  For an NGO which relied on appeal across the political spectrum, a key watchout emerged:  In engaging the discussion on invasive species, it is critical to avoid the risk of the associated narrative flashpoints of xenophobia and race baiting.