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Prominent right-wing tweeters have seen their follower counts shoot up since Elon Musk took over, sparking claims their accounts had been suppressed by woke Twitter staffers.
Meanwhile, leading left-wing figures including Barack Obama as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have seen huge slumps since news of Musk’s purchase.
Donald Trump Jr, who has 7.7 million followers, saw his followers surge by 87,296 on Tuesday and suggested the increase was due to an algorithm tweak targeting prominent conservative voices ahead of Musk’s arrival.
He tweeted: ‘While I’m awesome and totally deserving of 87,000 new followers a day it seems that someone took the shackles off my account. Wonder if they’re burning the evidence before new management comes in.’
Don Jr’s account had grown by between 5,000 and 10,000 tweets a day in recent weeks, with the spike in the wake of Musk’s announcement immediately obvious.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also saw a huge 141,566 people on Tuesday, according to SocialBlade statistics. That is a vast increase on the 5,000-or-so followers the popular GOP governor generally gains in the average day.
He praised Musk’s bid for Twitter, calling it ‘a good deal for shareholders’ and saying it ‘raises the prospect that the platform will be a place where free speech can thrive, not a tool for narrative enforcement.’
Conservative talk show host Dana Loesch, who’s long complained of account suppression, saw her followers surge by about 9,000 on Tuesday.
By comparison, she was gaining a few hundred new followers a day prior to Musk’s acquisition.
Donald Trump Jr, pictured last week campaigning for Ohio senate candidate J.D. Vance, was among the biggest winners in the Twitter follower fluctuations
Ron DeSantis, pictured on Friday, saw a surge in follower numbers on Tuesday
RON DESANTIS: The Florida governor’s Twitter follower count surged by an enormous 141,566 in the 24 hours after Musk bought the platform
Florida representative Matt Gaetz enjoyed a 21,430 follower boost on Tuesday – multiple times higher than the approximately 500 new followers he gains every day.
Conversely, liberal politicos saw their follower numbers slump in the wake of the Musk announcement.
New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who has 12.9 million followers – saw 20,725 people stop following her Tuesday.
Prior to Musk buying Twitter, she attracted around 1,000 new followers each day, and is widely-regarded as one of the most prominent progressive voices on the platform.
DANA LOESCH: The conservative radio host saw her followers grow by 9,309 on Tuesday – a huge spike. She has long claimed her numbers have been suppressed by Twitter, and backed Don Jr’s theory about staffers changing algorithms in a panic
Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow progressive ‘squad’ member – Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota – saw her followers slump by 10,097 Tuesday.
That is in contrast to the hundreds or even thousands of new followers she previously gained on any given day.
And former President Barack Obama – who tops the Twitter global leaderboard with 131.7 million followers, ended up with 5,063 fewer followers than before Musk’s announcement.
While that figure is a drop in the ocean compared to his vast Twitter audience, it sits markedly differently to the 15,000-20,000 new followers Obama previously attracted on any given day.
MATT GAETZ: The Florida representative also tweeted about his own follower surge, which saw 21,430 more people follow him Tuesday – far more than on the average day for his account
A Twitter spokesman claimed the fluctuations were organic. Many liberals have vowed to quit the platform over Musk’s hardline pro-free speech stance, and there’s also a chance conservatives have decided to join and follow right-wingers they admire in the wake of the announcement.
‘While we continue to take action on accounts that violate our spam policy which can affect follower counts, these fluctuations appear to largely be a result of an increase in new account creation and deactivation,’ Twitter said in a statement.
A spokesperson at Twitter told NBC News that the accounts with the most severe drop-offs in followers were ‘high-profile accounts.’
And the pattern was widely repeated: right wingers gained, while left wingers lost.
Barack Obama, the most followed person in the world with 131 million followers, saw a decrease in followers since Musk’s Monday announcement
BARACK OBAMA: The former president saw his follower count drop by 5,053 on Tuesday – a sudden change from the tens of thousands of new followers he usually attracts daily
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pictured on Sunday in Staten Island, saw her followers drop by 20,725 on Tuesday
AOC: The progressive congresswoman saw her followers slump by 20,725 Tuesday and 16,038 on Monday. She normally gains up to 1,500 new followers a day
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the abrasive Georgia representative, saw her tally rise by 41,181 on Tuesday, while her friend Matt Gaetz, the firebrand Florida congressman, went up 24,929.
‘It really is something how conservative accounts are getting massive follower increases today….’ Gaetz tweeted on Tuesday.
Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC anchor beloved by the left, lost 18,648 followers on Tuesday, while Fox News rival Tucker Carlson won 129,873.
The same was true internationally: Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, saw his total rise 65,268 to over 7.7 million, while Canada’s leftist prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was down 2,833 to six million.
The rises and falls were likely due to left-leaning Twitter users closing their accounts, following Musk’s takeover.
With the 50-year-old saying he wanted to make Twitter a more open platform for debate, many suspected he could reinstate Donald Trump’s account and lift restrictions on hate speech.
Taylor Green tweeted a list of those currently banned for spreading misinformation or inciting violence.
‘Bring back President Trump,’ she said.
‘Bring back my personal account. Bring back Dr. Robert Malone. Bring back Alex Jones.
‘Bring back Milo Yiannopoulos. Bring back the cancelled nation. Bring back freedom of speech.
Ilhan Omar – another vocal progressive on Twitter – saw her followers slump too
ILHAN OMAR: The progressive Minnesota congressman saw her followers slump by 10,097 after Musk’s acquisition
‘Bring back America!’
Celebrities such as Jameela Jamil announced they would no longer use the platform.
Right-leaning users of social media could also have reactivated dormant accounts which they never used, or signed up to the platform for the first time.
Yet Trump Jr said he suspected there was more to the fluctuation than that.
He repeated widespread right-wing speculation that their Twitter follower counts had been artificially suppressed, to try and downplay their support and influence.
He also suggested that the controls were being lifted, before Musk brought in new management, to avoid an embarrassing expose of practices.
‘While I’m awesome and totally deserving of 87,000 new followers a day it seems that someone took the shackles off my account. Wonder if they’re burning the evidence before new mgmt comes in?’
And conservative podcaster Dana Loesch echoed Trump Jr’s speculation.
‘Noticing an increase in followers and engagement after losing huge chunks (or static follower count for weeks on end) for the past few years,’ she tweeted.
‘Also seeing tweets from people I whose accounts I never see and am not having to refollow other conservatives repeatedly.
‘It’s too soon for Musk to have done this but I’m wondering if something was changed by those seeking to minimize their fingerprint ahead of potential transparency.’