In a comment posted late at night, Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk said that the platform must be politically neutral, after massive account deletions by left-leaning users of the social networking platform.
Hundreds of thousands of users have deleted their accounts on the website, following the acceptance of Musk’s USD44 billion takeover offer by the Twitter board. This in turn led to a slum pin followers of left-leaning politicians and celebrities that included Michelle and Barack Obama, Jeremy Corbyn and Taylor Swift.
However, right-wing influencers such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ted Cruz and Boris Johnson have all seen an upswing in the number of followers as new users signed up for the service.
Musk recently tweeted that he does not seek to politicize Twitter and affirmed that to gain public trust, Twitter must remain neutral. He went on to joke that this meant upsetting the far-right and the far-left in equal measure.
In earlier tweets and comments, Musk had been outspoken about his desire to retain Twitter as a platform of free speech, and stating that he is against censorship that goes beyond the law.
Stating that people will petition the government if they wanted free speech, going beyond the law was against the will of the common man.
Musk’s statements have largely been seen as criticism of Twitter’s moderation policies, mainly those that have targeted the far-right. In 2021, Donald Trump was banned from Twitter for his alleged role in the storming of the US Capitol, while Greene had her personal account permanently suspended after violating the 5-strike rule of the platform.
Musk has asserted that any changes he implements will affect all users of the platform. He mentioned that his goal is to maximize the area under the curve of human happiness, which meant that he would cater to the approximately 80 percent of users who are in the middle, without any bias towards leftists or rightists.
Twitter user base sees fluctuation
The response to the acquisition is not equally distributed, however. Katy Perry, the pop star who is the site’s third biggest user, lost 7,000 followers in just a few days, while Obama, whose 132 million followers make the former US president’s account the most popular on the site, lost 5,000 on Tuesday alone. Followers of the former first lady Michelle Obama went down by nearly 20,000.
Cruz, the junior senator for Texas, added more than 60,000 followers, while Greene gained more than 100,000 followers in the last week, a tenfold increase in the normal rate. Followers of Johnson are up by nearly 10,000, but the Twitter account of the former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has lost just over 1,000 followers.
The social media platform admitted in its first quarter results on Thursday that it had overstated its user numbers by nearly 2 million between the first quarter of 2019 and the last quarter of 2021. Twitter said the miscount in monetizable daily active users was down to an error in a feature that allowed people to link multiple separate accounts together to conveniently switch between them.
The company had 229 million daily users in the first quarter of the year, up from 214.7 million in the preceding three months. This rise was slightly higher than analysts had expected.
In what may be one of its final earnings reports as a public company, Twitter also announced its revenue rose to USD1.2bn in the first quarter, up from USD1.04bn a year earlier but slightly lower than forecasted.