Top 10 social media sites adopting renewable energy

By Helen Adams
Facebook has announced that it employs renewable energy for all 2.8bn users. Here are Top 10 social media platforms and their journey to renewable energy

There are 16,683 posts under the Instagram hashtag “#schoolstrikeforclimate”, yet the carbon footprint from social media streaming and scrolling is higher than users think. 

Social media platforms gnaw at battery life and require huge data storage facilities. 

Facebook announced that the company is now able to power the platform using 100% renewable energy for its billions of users. 

Here’s what the rest are doing to decrease their carbon footprint. 
 

10. Twitter

Headquarters: San Francisco, California, USA

Revenue: $3.7bn

Users: 330m

This year, Twitter shared its Global Impact Report, which covered sustainability: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We’re committed to protecting the environment, reducing our carbon footprint, and fostering long-term sustainability projects to play our part.”
 

9. LinkedIn

Headquarters: California, USA

Revenue: $8bn

Users: 740m

LinkedIn is proudly moving to zero-waste and has taken its carbon footprint seriously:

  • 80% of the office footprint is powered by wind and solar power 
  • 70% of office footprint is green building certified. 
  • LinkedIn conserves water by sourcing reclaimed water and engages with the Carbon Disclosure Project Water annually

 

8. YouTube

Headquarters: California, USA

Revenue: $19bn

Users: 2bn

The company is stationing itself in a position to educate users to live more sustainably.

"YouTube is proud to announce key partnerships and a growing slate of Originals that will provide our massive global audiences access to compelling content with a focus on sustainability," said Susanne Daniels, Global Head of Original Content for YouTube.
 

7. Instagram

Headquarters: Menlo Park, California, USA

Revenue: $20bn 

Users: 1bn

The platform allows climate conscious activism to drive interaction between users, from sharing plastic-free tips to vegan recipes. The company itself however, has no green credentials to show against its social media rivals, preferring to focus on maintaining a space free from bullying and harmful behavior. 

With all of the environmental content on the gram, that may have to change.

 

6. Reddit

Headquarters: San Francisco, California, USA

Revenue: $170m 

Users: 52m 

Reddit’s former CEO, Yishan Wong, left the company to help restore the planet and he is now the CEO of a Hawaii-based startup, Terraformation. “Essentially, we need to scale the solution in about 10 years, so that there is time for the forest to mature and become a carbon sink,” he told Fast Company

You can read all about it on Reddit.

 

5. TikTok

Headquarters: Culver City, California, USA

Revenue: $1bn

Users: 65m

TikTok shot into popularity over the pandemic period and has become a staple of Generation Z, known for its catchy dance videos.

However, research shows that TikTok has a higher carbon footprint than YouTube, yet the platform hosts a myriad of climate warriors, who use the platform to educate other users on environmental topics. 
 

4. Netflix

Headquarters: Los Gatos, California, USA

Revenue: $2.5bn 

Users: 204m

Although carbon emissions vary from devices, Netflix admitted that one hour of streaming content would total just under 100 grams of CO2. The company has since declared its ambition to be net-zero by 2022

In addition to publishing sustainability focused content, such as Cowspiracy (2014) and Seaspiracy (2021) the company is investing in at-risk natural ecosystem regeneration.
 

3. Snapchat

Headquarters: Santa Monica, California, USA 

Revenue: $2.5bn 

Users: 265m 

The platform has become far less popular with users since other sites implemented a similar story sharing feature. But Snapchat’s Battery and Media Delivery team have created solutions for iPhone and Android which minimise users carbon footprint, through reducing the apps battery drain. 

Furthermore, the platform supports forestry and renewable energy projects across the world, making the company carbon-neutral

 

2. WeChat

Headquarters: Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

Revenue: 24bn RMB / $3bn

Users: 1.2bn 

The only one on our list stationed outside of the USA, WeChat enables easy instant messaging. The platform is owned by Tencent, which uses hydro and wind power as well as waste-to-energy recovery, to support its data centres. 

At a data centre in Tianjin, wasted heat is recovered and reused, saving up to 1,620 tonnes of coal. 

Earlier this year, Tencent won first place in Greenpeace East Asia’s clean energy scorecard among cloud providers.

 

  1. Facebook

Headquarters: Menlo park, California, USA

Revenue: $86bn

Users: 2.8bn

On 15th April 2021, Facebook announced that the company had reached 100% renewable energy across all of its operations, from a goal set in 2018. 

“Although we’ve reached our latest goal, the work isn’t over,” said Urvi Parekh, Director of Renewable Energy. “We’ve already set a new goal that in 2030, we will reach net zero emissions across not only our own operations but also our value chain, our suppliers, as well as items like business travel and employee commuting.”
 

The social media carbon footprint verdict

Although some platforms are leaning on users to share their sustainable lifestyles to inspire others, Facebook and LinkedIn are leading the pack in taking responsibility for their carbon footprint and in supporting the environmental education of their users. They will have less work to do in the coming decades as net-zero becomes unavoidable and renewable energy the only option to power social media. 

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