Twitter saw mass “organic” deactivations and huge fluctuations in follower numbers for some of the platform’s highest-profile users in the days after Elon Musk agreed to a $44 billion takeover deal of the social media giant.
According to an NBC News report published Tuesday, the follower numbers for some of Twitter’s most-followed accounts, including former President Barack Obama, singers Katy Perry and Taylor Swift all dropped by hundreds of thousands. Obama, who is Twitter’s most-followed user with 131.7 million followers, saw his follower count fall by 300,000 since Monday. Perry, who has 108.8 million followers, lost 200,000.
Twitter routinely purges the platform of bots and fake accounts which can lead to follower counts dropping but the company confirmed to NBC News that the recent drops were “organic” and not automated or deletion of bots, meaning hundreds of thousands of users accounts are voluntarily deactivating.
Conversely, the follower numbers for prominent right-wing politicians and personalities have seen huge upticks in the days since the Musk takeover news. NBC News reports that controversial GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene saw her follower count jump 100,000 and far-right Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro gained 90,000 followers since Monday.
The deactivations come as Twitter users worry over Musk’s maximalist approach to free speech will lead to changes in content moderation on the platform and less stringent policies on abuse, extreme political groups and the return of banned users.
“My strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization; I don’t care about the economics at all,” Musk said at the TED conference in Vancouver on April 14.