Far-right people gained thousands of Twitter followers before Musk’s takeover

  • Far-right people gained thousands of new Twitter followers in the 24 hours before Musk took over.
  • Among those new followers, thousands were new to the platform, researchers told The New York Times.
  • Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert gained nearly 18,700 followers, half of them new to Twitter.

Far-right figures gained thousands of followers, including many from new accounts, in the 24 hours before Elon Musk’s takeover, according to a digital research firm.

Memetica found that many far-right representatives gained significant numbers of new followers, including thousands of accounts created the same day Musk signed the deal.

Former White House chief of staff Dan Scavino, who served during the Trump administration, gained just over 16,000 new followers from accounts created on or after Oct. 27, according to data from Memetica.

Colorado Rep. Lauren Bobert gained nearly 18,700 new followers in the 24 hours before Musk’s takeover, with nearly half from new accounts. This was 1,200% higher than the normal rate of new followers.

Memetica CEO Ben Decker told Insider that the findings were troubling because those who gained followers “are really known purveyors of misinformation, harassment and hate.”

While he needed clarification on Twitter’s moderation plans, he said “Rome hasn’t officially burned to the ground yet.”

“Our research shows that the rapid increase in followers of influential right-wing accounts, alongside calls for fringe platforms to try to return to Twitter, is, at least in the short term, likely to generate greater volumes of harassment, hate and politically motivated misinformation on platform as Twitter’s new management will be put to the ultimate test,” Decker said.

Other Twitter accounts with a surge of new followers include Arizona Rep. Kari Lake with 18,000 followers, including 3,100 new accounts. and conservative media personality Candace Owens, who amassed 3,700 followers, 2,300 of whom were young.

These people promoted Donald Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. “The more followers and wider reach these accounts have, the more distribution these ideas have,” Decker told the New York Times.

Twitter did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

However, there is no evidence that the phenomenon is directly linked to Musk becoming the new owner of the social media platform. The new accounts “could be an indication that far-right people are migrating back to Twitter as they see the potential for a friendlier environment,” Decker told the Times.

Meanwhile, Social Blade, a social media analytics firm, found that progressive politicians and celebrities lost followers. Accounts with the biggest losses include former President Barack Obama, Dem. Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez and MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow.

Musk’s ownership of Twitter is about certain organizations. Paul Barrett, associate director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, told the Times: “The danger here is that in the name of ‘free speech,’ Musk will turn back the clock and make Twitter a more powerful engine of hate, division and misinformation for elections, public health policy and international affairs.”

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