NYT Terrified By Tiny Changes In Twitter Follower Counts
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From the New York Times news section:

Some far-right accounts on Twitter saw surge in new followers, researchers say.
It’s unclear if the activity was driven by Elon Musk’s takeover of the company.

By Sheera Frenkel and Stuart A. Thompson
Oct. 28, 2022
Updated 4:39 p.m. ET

In the 24 hours before Elon Musk closed his deal for Twitter on Thursday, thousands of new accounts were created on the social media service and joined a broader surge of new followers for some of the platform’s most influential far-right accounts, according to research from Memetica, a digital investigations company.

The Twitter account of Kari Lake, a Republican candidate for governor in Arizona, gained 18,000 followers in the last 24 hours, a 600 percent increase from the usual number of new followers that Ms. Lake typically sees in a day, according to Memetica. Of those 18,000 new followers, over 3,100 were new to Twitter.

OMG: a major party candidate for governor adds social media followers in the days before the election! It’s a crisis:

And Candace Owens, a conservative media personality, gained over 3,700 new followers in the last 24 hours, 300 percent above normal. Of her new followers, over 2,300 accounts were new to Twitter, according to Memetica.

Presumably, Musk taking over Twitter likely means the end of the various right-wing social media alternatives.

… Ben Decker, the chief executive of Memetica, said the findings were alarming because many of the far-right figures who experienced spikes in followers “are really well known purveyors of disinformation, harassment, and hate.” The accounts have shared misinformation about voter fraud in the 2020 presidential elections and made unsubstantiated claims about potential fraud in the upcoming Nov. 8 midterm elections.

“The more followers and wider reach these accounts have, the more distribution these ideas have,” said Mr. Decker, who also advises The New York Times on security. “That is horrifying to consider two weeks before the election.”

Mr. Decker added that the fact that many of the new followers of the far-right accounts were recently created Twitter accounts “could be an indication that far-right people are migrating back to Twitter as they see the potential for a more friendly environment.”

Researchers also found that Twitter accounts for progressive politicians and celebrities were losing followers on Friday. Former President Barack Obama, Representative Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez [sic], a Democrat of New York, and Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC host, were among the Twitter accounts that lost the most followers since Thursday, according to data from Social Blade, a social media analytics firm.

Obama lost 1/5000th of his Twitter followers!

I’m not going to include the graphic because it’s boring. E.g., Ben Shapiro is up 0.6% and The Babylon Bee is up 2% in anticipation that Musk will let the Christian satirical site out of Twitter gulag where it has been for months after naming Admiral Levine its Man of the Year. That bit of Current Year insanity apparently was an important impetus in persuading Musk to blow $44 billion on buying Twitter.

Interestingly, I don’t recall hesitating to call Admiral Levine a man and I haven’t been suspended for it. I’ve long wondered if I had a relationship with Twitter management like Bulgakov had with Stalin: We aren’t going to crush you like a bug, but we aren’t going to let you get big either. I’m sure I’ll never know.

… Groups who study misinformation and hate speech online also said on Friday that Mr. Musk’s public statements regarding free speech on Twitter were disquieting.

“The danger here is that in the name of ‘free speech,’ Musk will turn back the clock and make Twitter into a more potent engine of hatred, divisiveness and misinformation about elections, public health policy and international affairs,” said Paul Barrett, the deputy director of the N.Y.U. Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

A group of nonprofit organizations that include the Center for Countering Digital Hate, Accountable Tech, and Global Project Against Hate and Extremism also issued a joint statement about their concern over Mr. Musk’s Twitter ownership.

“Elon Musk’s plans for Twitter will make it an even more hate-filled cesspool, leading to irreparable real-world harm,” the groups said. “Musk’s plans will leave the platform more vulnerable to security threats, rampant disinformation and extremism just ahead of the midterm elections.”

Mr. Musk sought to allay some of those fears. On Friday, he tweeted that he would be forming a “content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints.”

“No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes,” he wrote.

[Comment at Unz.com]

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