Other companies’ social media accounts appear more focused on promoting safety. The bulk of photos on the Instagram accounts of Spin and Skip, for example, show riders wearing helmets; Lime’s account includes a mix of helmeted and unhelmeted riders. Unlike Bird, Spin, Skip, and Lime have several posts specifically dedicated to encouraging helmet use.

Promoting helmet use may not be a net positive for scooter companies’ bottom line; while scooters can be rented on-demand, helmets may not always be available, so companies might have some financial incentive to look the other way on helmet use. And in fact, earlier this year, Bird sponsored a bill in California that changed existing law, making it legal for riders to scoot sans helmet. Other areas, like Atlanta, Georgia and Austin, Texas, did not have existing laws about helmet wearing when scooters first appeared in their cities, but are now considering adding them in light of scooters’ popularity.

Of course, Instagram is just one platform scooter companies use; for instance, Bird’s website features its free helmet program front and center. If these companies are truly dedicated to safety, however, their social media accounts would be a good place to promote those beliefs. “Research has demonstrated that the ways companies promote and demonstrate use of their product or service through social media influences consumer behavior,” write the study’s authors.

This story has been updated to include comment from Bird.

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