A day after Elon Musk sealed the $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, prominent users on the platform have been seeing wild swings in their follower counts.
One of the first users to report a loss in followers was Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, an organization advocating for stronger gun control. She tweeted “I’ve lost over 300 followers so far today.… Is Twitter finally cleaning up trolls?” Author Chuck Wendig responded, “I’ve lost about 1000 and I believe it’s people deleting accounts. That’s anecdotal though.”
Soon, a flood of other prominent, blue-ticked users came forward with the same complaint. Senior adviser and staff secretary to President Joe Biden Neera Tanden, gun control activist David Hogg, and Star Wars actor Mark Hamill all tweeted out that they had lost several thousand followers since the deal was announced.
However, largely missing from the list of users complaining about a loss of Twitter followers were conservative and right-wing accounts. In fact, a number of users in this group actually gained followers in the last 24 hours.
While users like Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez all lost more than 10,000 followers overnight, according to data from social media analytics tracker SocialBlade, conservatives like Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich, and Laura Ingraham gained.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Congressman who had her personal Twitter account suspended after repeatedly spreading COVID-19 misinformation, saw her official government Twitter account gain 41,181 new followers last night.
What’s behind the curves?
It’s unclear whether the changes in follower count come from an exodus of Twitter users who are leaving the site due to the ownership change or if there has been a cleanup of bots overnight.
Prior to Musk's acquisition, many threatened to leave the platform, akin to similar threats of moving abroad—often to Canada—if an unwanted candidate wins a presidential election.
But on the other side of the spectrum, those on the right wing who have been booted from the platform by previous leadership—such as Rep. Taylor Greene—have been eagerly anticipating a return to a new and less restrictive Twitter, which Musk says will be like a “digital town square.”
Conservative political commentator and white nationalist Nick Fuentes wrote on Telegram after Musk’s Twitter purchase became official, “LETS F---ING GOOOOOOOOOOOOO.” The American far-right Proud Boys organization also celebrated Musk’s purchase of Twitter on its Telegram noting how it was going to make liberals “BIG mad today.”
But other big swings are harder to explain via a simple left/right axis. President Joe Biden saw a 26,000 increase in followers, while the Auschwitz Memorial claimed a loss of some 35,000 followers.
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