Musk doesn’t own Twitter yet, but conservatives are gaining followers

Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump Jr. and Republican lawmakers see their followings surge while Democrats are falling

Cumulative change in Twitter followers of the 20 Republican and Democratic members of Congress with the largest follower changes

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green Genetic Algorithm

Twitter

Announce

Musk Sales

Cumulative change in Twitter followers of the 20 Republican and Democratic members of Congress with the largest follower changes

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green Genetic Algorithm

Twitter

Announce

Musk Sales

Note: Sanders is an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

TWITTERPOLITICS CONGRESS medium

Cumulative change in Twitter followers of the 20 Republican and Democratic members of Congress with the largest follower changes

Rep. Marjorie

Taylor Green Genetic Algorithm

Twitter

Announce

sold to

Elon Musk

Note: Sanders is an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

TWITTERPOLITICS CONGRESS

Cumulative change in Twitter followers of the 20 Republican and Democratic members of Congress with the largest follower changes

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green Genetic Algorithm

Twitter announced

Sold to Elon Musk

Note: Sanders is an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

Hours after Twitter accepted Elon Musk’s takeover of the company, Fox News host Tucker Carlson called the sale “since Donald Trump won the presidency” biggest political development.

“You just got stronger,” Carlson told his millions of viewers hours after the deal was announced. “It’s so simple, yet so profound.”

In fact, Carlson himself is about to get stronger: Since April 25, the day Twitter accepted Musk’s proposal, his Twitter following has jumped by more than 230,000, or nearly 5%.

There’s a lot more that could be a deal breaker; Musk himself tweeted Friday that the sale was “on hold” as he investigated fake accounts on the site.

But Carlson’s takeover is one of several early signs that Musk’s acquisition has changed the dynamics of one of the country’s most influential social networks. A Washington Post analysis of hundreds of Twitter accounts found that followers of right-leaning accounts, including Republican members of Congress, have surged since the deal was announced last month, though followers of their Democratic counterparts were flat.

Other influencers have seen similar spikes: Donald Trump Jr. has nearly 600,000 followers, an 8 percent increase, bringing his following to more than 8.1 million. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has grown his Twitter following by more than 300,000 in less than three weeks. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) gained nearly 250,000 followers in the same time frame.

Tucker Carlson, conservatives cheer Musk’s Twitter buy: ‘We’re back’

During the same period, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lost more than 8,500 followers, while Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) lost about 11,000 and 6,000, respectively followers. After news of Musk’s acquisition, #LeavingTwitter briefly took off on the platform, and Democrats’ influence declined.

Musk doesn’t yet have control over Twitter’s internal decision-making, and the deal isn’t expected to close for months. However, the data shows how Musk’s leadership as a “free speech absolutist” could shape the future of social networking — changing which users flock to the platform. The change comes in the critical months leading up to mid-2022, when a shift in Twitter use could shape the national political debate and media coverage of race.

“It definitely speaks to a possible future for Twitter,” said Darren Linville, an associate professor at Clemson University’s Center for Media Forensics. “You’re going to see a surge in conservative users.”

Several high-profile conservative users unfoundedly attributed the sudden boost to the company treating conservative accounts differently the moment the Musk deal was announced. (Twitter declined to comment on the claims, but has previously said it does not make content moderation decisions based on political ideology.)

“While I’m awesome and totally worth 87,000 new followers a day, someone seems to have unchained my account. Wondering if they burned the evidence before a new admin came in?” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted tweeted. Likewise, Carlson’s show suggested Musk had “restored” free speech online, reactivating his previously suspended account.

Why Elon Musk is so polarized

In fact, Twitter suspended Carlson’s account in March after Carlson suggested that America’s highest-level openly transgender woman, Rachel Levine, was male. Carlson’s account was not reinstated due to the policy change. Twitter spokeswoman Elizabeth Busby told The Post that Carlson restored full access 12 hours after deleting the tweet that violated the company’s rules.

Twitter spokesman Trenton Kennedy said in a statement that the company has been investigating the fluctuations. “While we continue to take action against accounts that violate our spam policy, which may impact follower numbers, these fluctuations appear to be largely the result of an increase in new account creations and deactivations.” NBC News first reported Conservative Early fluctuations in the number of followers.

Conservatives appear to see Musk’s acquisition of the company as an invitation to return to the site.

Bhaskar Chakravorti, dean of the School of Global Business at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, said Musk’s deal could be seen as a signal that people who had previously been suspended from the site could return, prompting people to follow Republican political leaders.

Musk’s early remarks about his company’s plans drew longstanding criticism from conservatives. He said Tuesday he plans to reverse Twitter’s permanent suspension of former President Donald Trump, a high-profile decision that saw conservatives accuse tech companies of bias against such users. Musk said Twitter needs to be “more fair,” adding that the company has a “strong left-leaning bias.”

Twitter’s lead lawyer has long been weighing security and free speech. Then Elon Musk called her out.

In recent weeks, Musk may also be gaining followers through his own high-profile interactions. He replied to right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro after Shapiro wrote that the Washington Post and “every left-wing blue checkmark” panicked over Musk’s comments on the platform. Shapiro, who has a history of inflammatory comments about race and sexuality, has soared more than 400,000 followers since Musk’s acquisition, bringing his total to more than 4.3 million.

Musk responded three times after selling to right-wing activist Mike Cernovich, who promoted false conspiracy theories, including the infamous “Pizzagate” scam. Cernovich’s following has grown by nearly 74,000, an 8 percent increase, bringing his following to over 960,000.

Representatives for Carlson, Jordan, Cruz, Sanders, Waters, Feinstein, Shapiro and Cernovich did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A representative for Trump Jr. declined to comment.

Such friendly remarks may attract conservatives, encouraging them to join the site. But if Twitter becomes too aligned with one political party, that could be bad for the company’s bottom line, Linvill said.

“If it’s only going to be a platform for conservative talk, or just a platform for liberal talk, there’s no question it’s going to lose money,” Linville said. “It needs to be a place where people can safely share some cat memes.”

Trump’s truth society in trouble as financial, tech problems mount

Historically, Twitter has a more liberal user base than Facebook, which is a larger social network. A 2021 Pew Research Center study found that more than a third of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents report using Twitter, nearly double the percentage of Republicans who say they use the social network. That’s a far bigger gap than Facebook, which is used by 72 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans. However, other social networks such as Instagram, WhatsApp and LinkedIn also reported similar differences to Twitter.

This left-leaning may have contributed to how Twitter users talk about selling on the platform: An analysis of more than 4 million tweets by a Tufts University team found that posts reflecting both positive emotions (like happiness) and negative emotions (like anger) The surge came after Musk began publicly criticizing the company in late March. But once news of the acquisition broke, the dominant reaction subsided, reflecting sadness and anger.

“I think people feel [the takeover] It’s a bridge that’s too far,” Chakravorti said. “Emotions become negative, and obviously negative. “

One reason users may have polarized views on Musk’s ownership of Twitter is because they have different views on how the company manages content. A separate 2021 Pew Research Center study found that Republicans on Twitter are more likely to say Twitter has an overly aggressive content moderation policy. Nearly 60 percent of Republicans said Twitter’s reduced visibility of certain posts was a major issue, compared with 17 percent of Democrats.

Judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter

Evelyn Douek, a senior fellow at Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, said that while there was no evidence Twitter eased restrictions on conservative accounts after the Musk deal was finalized, their comments underscored a bigger Transparency issues.

“A lot of people across the political spectrum are concerned about this,” she said. “It’s a fact that we don’t know what’s going on.”

Twitter follower data for current congressmen from No public. All other Twitter follower data via Internet Archive.

technology.

Leave a Reply