As multiple outlets are reporting, crypto-fascists like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene alongside straight-up fascists such as Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro are all seeing ridiculously massive spikes in their Twitter audience numbers. DeSantis, for example, is spreading his queerphobic, racist propaganda to another 200,000 users, while both Rep. Greene and Bolsonaro have racked up around 100,000 new followers so far this week alone. These kinds of numbers are exponentially higher than their average stats, seeing as how each usually manage a few hundred or thousand new followers per day.
Meanwhile, more “liberal” public figures like former President, Barack Obama, and Katy Perry actually experienced net losses this week — the former losing just over 5,000 people on Tuesday, while Perry lost more than 200,000 followers. While these numbers are likely to become less dramatic in the days and weeks ahead, they confirm what most of us already knew: Musk’s hostile social media takeover in the name of “free speech” is a boon for asshats everywhere.
No bots about it — Although some of these changes can be attributed to run-of-the-mill procedures like bot and spam cleanup efforts, Twitter confirmed that the vast majority of this comes from real humans’ digital migrations. “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 PR wrote in an official statement.
The victim card — Despite what Republican critics say, Twitter doesn’t single out conservative voices — if anything, they routinely skew in their favor. Wannabe demagogues and hatebait influencers like DeSantis and Greene often see outsized online coverage because social media algorithms are designed to elicit our most emotional responses in a bid to keep us on these sites as long as possible.
What Musk and others truly want when they crow about “free speech” is the unencumbered right to spread their propaganda, misinformation, and misdirections without fear of consequence or reprisal. It’s no surprise that we’re already seeing reactionaries flock towards newfound social media possibilities while both otherwise apolitical or left-leaning accounts are drawing their own lines in the digital sand.