Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has created upheaval on a number of different fronts, but among the most interesting is the change in follower count among some of the country’s highest-profile media outlets and politicians.
The short story is that the right has gained, and the left has lost. Speculation abounds as to what explains these changes, from liberal users leaving the platform, to conservative users flocking to it, to bots being purged and algorithmic “boosts” being disabled. Whatever the reasons, the changes are stark, as shown in the charts below.
EdgeTheory took a look at major Twitter accounts that gained or lost at least 1,000 followers. Here’s what we found.
Among media outlets, Fox News gained the most (+150,000). CNN gained a little more than 75,000. Four of the biggest gainers (Sean Hannity, Greg Gutfeld, Jeanine Pirro, and Leo Terrel) either have shows on Fox News or are frequent on-air guests of the network.
Among media personalities, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was the media’s biggest loser, shedding almost 44,000 followers last week, Anderson Cooper, Jim Acosta, and Jake Tapper of CNN, and Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Nicolle Wallace of MSNBC rounded out the list. Among outlets, NPR, HuffPost, and The New Yorker also saw signifiant losses in followers.
With midterm elections right around the corner, a number of high-profile politicians have also experienced significant changes in their Twitter follower count following Musk’s acquisition of the platform. Here, though, the split among winners and losers was strictly along party lines:
Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) each gained over 90,000 new followers last week. Rand Paul (R-KY) gained over 60,000, and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) gained over 40,000. Five other Republicans each received between 23,000 to 32,000 new followers.
On the other side of the aisle, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) alone lost over 45,000 followers. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) each lost over 35,000 followers. The remaining seven Democrats lost between 12,000 to 24,000 followers apiece.
This complete contrast between Republicans rapidly gaining followers and Democrats drastically losing followers has gained the attention of several news outlets. While the timing of these gains and losses follow Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, both Fox News and The New York Times emphasize that whether these shifts are related to Musk’s ownership is uncertain.