News Round-Up

Harnessing online tactics to save a species


Targeted advertising and news coverage are powerful, and controversial, tools for influencing human perceptions and behaviour. This influence can be perceived as exploitative – notoriously Cambridge Analytica’s alleged influence in the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US Presidential election. Such cases have received widespread attention and raised ethical questions around whether, or how, these tools should be used. But do they, unwittingly, reveal new conservation solutions?

As researchers working to improve conservation of the world’s wildlife, we wondered: could we, and should we, subvert these tools’ main use of peddling products and political ideals, to instead promote positive conservation messages?

The illegal or unsustainable wildlife trade is a major issue impacting biodiversity across the globe. However, despite numerous concerted efforts to tackle this challenge, it remains a key contributor to global species decline. In response, we set out to develop an effective, scalable approach to curb demand for unsustainably harvested wildlife, and to test this approach in practice. MORE

Header image: Saiga in the wild. Credit: Shutterstock.