What’s Going on With Twitter?
After Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover, more than a few things have changed, but one thing that hasn’t is the continued political discourse.
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It’s likely not news to you that since Elon Musk announced his acquisition of Twitter, things have taken a turn on the platform. But what we want to know is where this turn is taking us? Who is leading the way? And how are Twitter users reacting?
BIG TAKEAWAY: Since Musk’s takeover, far-right millennials are flocking to the platform eager to show their support for both MAGA and Musk.
The debate over continuing to support Elon and Twitter has become a leading topic among Democrats and Republicans since the announcement of his takeover.
This debate has become overwhelmingly negative with neither side willing to budge.
The Majority of Elon supporters on Twitter are self-identified MAGA conservatives.
SLEEPER TAKEAWAY: Regardless of concerns over misinformation, hostile environments, and Musk’s overall influence, less than 1% of Twitter's active users have actually left the platform. Considering most users remain active on Twitter, the audience you're used to reaching is largely still there.
Following the Twitter acquisition announcement, Elon Musk has been inextricably linked to the Twitter platform. Google Trends data clearly shows that searches related to Twitter and Elon Musk follow a similar trend.
Since the initial purchase announcement, negative sentiment towards the platform itself has increased substantially (+10% in the past year). If the disapproval of Musk purchasing Twitter wasn’t already clear, it is now. We find that the largest spike in negativity immediately followed the completion of Musk's takeover and firing of top executives.
This negativity is not only coming from frustrations over his firing of nearly 4,000 employees, but also user concerns about growing misinformation, hate speech, and fake accounts on the platform.
Many focused explicitly on the attempts to protect these concerns through the guise of free speech.
The debate over Twitter has always been a political one. When we look at the discourse among self-identified Republicans and Democrats over the last three months, outside of the midterm elections, Twitter has remained within the trending topics. Highlighting a clear division among parties over Elon’s impact on Twitter.
This division is made even more obvious when we take a look at the key bio descriptors of online users sharing their “love” and “hate” for Elon Musk. Those showing their support for Musk tend to lean right (MAGA, Conservative), while left-leaning users (Democrat, Liberal, Blue) are the ones expressing more hatred.
It’s clear how big of an impact those on the left are having on the discourse. In remaining consistent in their disdain for Elon’s influence on Twitter, they are causing the negative sentiment to continue rising, gaining more attention and traction for their cause.
Despite the impact we are seeing from the left, support for Elon himself is still prominent and surprisingly, his Twitter Takeover seems to be drawing in younger audiences to the platform. This increased support for Elon seems to be coming from Millennials (aged 26-41), long considered to favor newer platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
Taking into consideration the most common bios for Elon lovers, it is clear that younger conservatives are being drawn back to the platform. The volume of online mentions from far-right millennials on Twitter has seen consistent growth, more than doubling since Musk announced he would be buying Twitter last April.
Regardless of stark political differences, and a rise in the volume of posts from right-wing supporters, people are not leaving Twitter. While reports suggest people will be leaving twitter in droves over the next two years, since the actual takeover, less than 1 percent of Twitter’s daily users have deactivated their accounts.
People have not given up just yet. While there are plenty of arguments to leave Twitter, such as Jelani Cobb’s piece in the New Yorker, “Why I Quit Elon Musk’s Twitter”, there are just as many reasons to stay. Karen Attiah’s piece in the Washington Post, “Why I’m not leaving Twitter” provides a perspective it seems many users are currently taking in continuing to use the platform to their advantage.
Bottom line: While people are eager to speak out about their concerns and frustrations with Elon’s actions and the current growth of hateful speech on the platform, they aren’t leaving just yet. Twitter has remained a primary source for political engagement over the years, and it seems things might head in a more divisive direction before anyone decides to give up on the platform as a whole.