One of the unexpected effects of Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter purchase is that non-woke and right-of-centre accounts on the platform have suddenly surged in popularity, while woke and left-of-centre accounts have lost followers. MailOnline has more.
Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter appears to have led to a split in users’ fortunes along ideological lines – with conservative figures gaining followers while leading ‘Wokerati’ go in the opposite direction.
The Tesla founder’s $44 billion bid was unanimously accepted by Twitter’s board on Monday. Shortly afterwards, prominent American right-wingers, such as Donald Trump’s son, Don Jr., saw their follower counts shoot up while Democrats, like the congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, suffered falls.
The same dynamic is occurring in the U.K., with statistics from Social Blade showing Nigel Farage added 3,912 followers yesterday as he enjoyed his most successful period for at least two weeks – while left-wing talking heads James O’Brien and Owen Jones lost 241 and 546 each.
J.K. Rowling, despite being a critic of the Conservative party, has become unpopular with many left-wing Twitterati due to her stance on gender issues. Yesterday, she saw her followers increase for the first time in weeks.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter star Emma Watson appeared to be losing her magic touch – down 5,168 yesterday – while former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shed 850 followers and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, 146. Actress Jameela Jamil, who has threatened to leave Twitter over Musk’s takeover, lost 615.
The picture was far rosier for right-wing figures, with journalists Douglas Murray, Fraser Nelson, Toby Young and Julia Hartley-Brewer seeing their follower counts rise 4,784, 24, 286 and 655 consecutively.
The fluctuation in follower numbers in the U.S. triggered a wave of theories seeking to explain the phenomenon.
Some suggested ‘free speech absolutist’ Musk’s takeover prompted developers to change the social media giant’s algorithm to highlight conservative accounts and suppress left-leaning ones – a theory that was slapped down by people who pointed out that Musk will not officially complete his purchase of the platform for months.
Others argued ‘woke’ Twitter programmers, who have been accused of silencing right-wing voices by suspending or banning controversial accounts whose views they disagree with, had adjusted the algorithm to be more balanced in an attempt to cover up their previous biases.
But Twitter blocked its staff from making programming changes to the app to prevent it being sabotaged, suggested that theory was off the mark.
Today, Carrie-Ann Sudlow, a digital marketeer and social media expert, insisted the changes were not the result of ‘an algorithm issue or a conspiracy’.
“When something like this happens in the world, the influencers like Nigel Farage have an opinion on it, and it’s either popular or not popular and that leads to them gaining or losing followers,” she told MailOnline.
“This is a big takeover from a very influential man. With influence comes strong opinions. Elon fans seem to be for or against with few sitting on the fence.
“He’s making a big impact on all areas of the world, his sceptics will not want to fund him so leave Twitter. His supporters will rejoice and jump on the back of the news hence gaining followers.”
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: @LD_Sceptics, the Twitter account of the Daily Sceptic, has jumped in popularity since Elon’s takeover and now boasts 20,300 followers. The Free Speech Union’s Twitter account has also exploded (~70,000). If you’re on Twitter, please give them both a follow.