News About Twitter


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Elon Musk’s Twitter/X Follower Count Bloated by Millions of Suspicious or Inactive Accounts

According to a recent report from Mashable, new data raises questions about the authenticity and engagement levels of Elon Musk’s massive Twitter/X following, which now exceeds 153 million users on the recently renamed platform. Musk has been a towering figure on social media since long before his acquisition of Twitter in October 2022. However, recent data suggests that the numbers on his gigantic following may not be as straightforward as they seem.

Mashable reports that third-party researcher Travis Brown recently conducted an exhaustive analysis of Musk’s Twitter followers. According to Brown, a staggering 42 percent of Musk’s followers have zero followers of their own, and over 72 percent have fewer than 10. Roughly 40 percent of Musk’s followers have never tweeted. This leads to questions about the authenticity of Musk’s followers, as these users follow many of the behaviors associated with bots, or fake accounts.

Another focus of the research is the timing of account creations. More than 25 percent of Musk’s current followers created their accounts after he acquired Twitter in October 2022. This could either indicate a surge of interest in Musk or point to a potential influx of bot accounts. Despite the colossal following, only a minuscule 0.3 percent of Musk’s followers are subscribed to X Premium, the platform’s paid subscription service that was formerly known as Twitter Blue. This is particularly surprising given that Musk has been actively promoting the service, which offers features like a verification badge and monetization eligibility.


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Taibbi’s first “Twitter Files” installment revealed that the FBI and other government agencies were pressuring Twitter to suppress disfavored political content. When Weiss showed up to continue the reporting, she was shocked to learn that Baker was actively trying to prevent Musk’s transparency efforts.

“As Weiss pushed the legal department to process more searches for her, she got a call from the company’s deputy general counsel, who said his name was Jim,” biographer Walter Isaacson writes. Asked for his last name, he said: “Baker.”

“My jaw dropped,” Weiss told Isaacson, reflecting on the discovery. After her chat with Baker, Weiss texted Musk: “What the f***?” “You’re like asking the guy to do searches on himself? This makes no f***ing sense.”

Baker’s reputation with the FBI, and his involvement in the bureau’s probe into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, raised serious ethical concerns. The revelation made Musk irate. “It’s like asking Al Capone to, like, look into his own taxes,” the Tesla founder told Isaacson.

Musk reportedly summoned Baker to a meeting shortly afterward, where the two clashed “over what privacy guarantees were mandated by a consent decree between Twitter and the Federal Trade Commission.” Following the conversation, Baker was “promptly fired,” Isaacson writes.

Baker was a central figure in the “Twitter Files” saga. In December 2022, Taibbi shared internal Twitter emails showing Baker defending the suppression of the Hunter Biden story.

“I support the conclusion that we need more facts to assess whether the materials were hacked,” Baker wrote at the time after company executives asked if Twitter could “truthfully claim” that banning the laptop story was “part of the policy.”

“At this stage, however, it’s reasonable for us to assume that they may have been and that caution is warranted,” Baker added.

Taibbi later published a disclaimer informing readers that the first Twitter Files revelations were vetted by Baker “without knowledge of new management.”



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Left-Wing ADL Was ‘Instrumental’ In Blacklisting Donald Trump from Twitter

The billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla also said it was the ADL that led efforts to choke off the platform’s advertising revenue, after Musk promised to restore free speech.

“The fact of the matter is, the ADL did initiate a boycott. They call it a ‘pause,’ but you know, a ‘pause’ that is a never ending boycott — same thing!”

“We saw a massive drop in U.S. advertising. We saw basically no change in advertising in Asia, but domestically where the ADL is strong we saw a 60 percent drop. So, you know, that’s pretty intense.”

“This is despite showing repeated analyses of the system, including third party analysis of the system, showing that the number of views of hateful content declined. Third parties that have all the data analyzed and said, actually, there’s less hate speech.”

“The issue I think, with the ADL, is not a question of hate speech, it’s not a question of antisemitism, obviously. It’s that the ADL and a lot of other organizations have become activist organizations which are acting far beyond their stated mandate, or their original mandate, and I think far beyond what donors to those organizations think they are doing.”


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Bye, Felicia! Elon Musk Slashes Part of Twitter Dystopian ‘Election Integrity’ Team

According to The Information on Sept. 27, the social media platform reportedly ousted five anti-free speech activists from its contentious election integrity team. Musk took to Twitter to react to the reports, confirming that the individuals were “gone.”

Among those affected by the purge was notorious disinformation chief Aaron Rodericks who came under fire last month in mid-August for undermining Musk’s promise to protect free speech.

Responding to a post of the ousting news, Musk seemingly sarcastically replied in a post of his own: “Oh you mean the ‘Election Integrity’ Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone.” Less than a day later, X CEO Linda Yaccarino chimed in to dispel rumors that the company was completely getting rid of the group, effectively dousing pro-free speech advocates with a bucket of cold water.



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🔥 After yesterday’s absurd New York Times reporting disaster over Hamas General Hospital, The Washington Post ran a defensive story headlined, “Elon Musk’s X removes New York Times’ verification badge.” The WaPo pretended not to know why Musk took away the New York Times ‘trusted-source’ flag.

The “verified” badge is a little symbol distinguishing the Times’ 55-million-follower account from all the impostor accounts. The Times has never paid for it. Now it has been taken away, the official Times twitter account is on the same level with scads of fake New York Times twitter accounts and parodies.

Musk did not explain the Times’ demotion or answer requests for comment. But given the timing it was obviously because the Times excreted so much fake news about Hamas Hospital, including a running a top-of-the-fold fake photo of a demolished hospital that wasn’t even a hospital and even though the real Hamas Hospital was not, in fact, demolished.

Anyway. The Times responded childishly to its fake-news demotion by immediately running a Paul Krugman hit piece against Twitter. Krugman didn’t even mention the Times’ demotion, but come on:

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In April, NPR became the first major news organization to stop using Twitter after Musk gloriously labeled its account as “state-affiliated media.” Musk now seems to be inviting the New York Times to also get off his platform.

I can’t say The New York Times twitter account would be missed.



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As Promised, X Corp. Sues Media Matters

Last Friday Elon Musk threated to sue Media Matters over its report about ads appearing next to neo-Nazi content. Yesterday he followed up his initial tweet about the lawsuit with this one calling what Media Matters did a scam.

Ed wrote about Musk’s chances here and I can’t say I really disagree with his logic. Media companies have a lot of leeway when it comes to claims they publish. As long as the content wasn’t completely false, Media Matters has a reasonable chance to win in court.

That said, there’s another way to view this. The lawsuit is already getting tremendous media attention and while it will lead to a repetition of Media Matters’ claims about X, it will also lead to more information about their sketchy methods the site used to produce these results. This comes from the complaint filed by X Corp.

For the last several years, Media Matters has falsely portrayed Twitter, now X, as a risky, unsafe platform for advertisers. Contrary to these efforts, 99% of X’s measured ad placement in 2023 has appeared adjacent to content scoring above the Global Alliance for Responsible Media’s brand safety floor.
Undeterred by the truth, Media Matters has opted for new tactics in its campaign to drive advertisers from X. Media Matters has manipulated the algorithms governing the user experience on X to bypass safeguards and create images of X’s largest advertisers’ paid posts adjacent to racist, incendiary content, leaving the false impression that these pairings are anything but what they actually are: manufactured, inorganic, and extraordinarily rare.
Media Matters executed this plot in multiple steps, as X’s internal investigations have revealed. First, Media Matters accessed accounts that had been active for at least 30 days, bypassing X’s ad filter for new users. Media Matters then exclusively followed a small subset of users consisting entirely of accounts in one of two categories: those known to produce extreme, fringe content, and accounts owned by X’s big-name advertisers. The end result was a feed precision-designed by Media Matters for a single purpose: to produce side-by-side ad/content placements that it could screenshot in an effort to alienate advertisers.
But this activity still was not enough to create the pairings of advertisements and content that Media Matters aimed to produce.
Media Matters therefore resorted to endlessly scrolling and refreshing its unrepresentative, hand-selected feed, generating between 13 and 15 times more advertisements per hour than viewed by the average X user repeating this inauthentic activity until it finally received pages containing the result it wanted: controversial content next to X’s largest advertisers’ paid posts.
Media Matters omitted mentioning any of this in a report published on November 16, 2023 that displayed instances Media Matters “found” on X of advertisers’ paid posts featured next to Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist content. Nor did Media Matters otherwise provide any context regarding the forced, inauthentic nature and extraordinary rarity of these pairings.
However, relying on the specious narrative propagated by Media Matters, the advertisers targeted took these pairings to be anything but rare and inorganic, with all but one of the companies featured in the Media Matters piece withdrawing all ads from X, including Apple, Comcast, NBCUniversal, and IBM—some of X’s largest advertisers. Indeed, in pulling all advertising from X in response to this intentionally deceptive report, IBM called the pairings an “entirely unacceptable situation.”2 Only Oracle did not withdraw its ads.
The truth bore no resemblance to Media Matters’ narrative. In fact, IBM’s, Comcast’s, and Oracle’s paid posts appeared alongside the fringe content cited by Media Matters for only one viewer (out of more than 500 million) on all of X: Media Matters. Not a single authentic user of the X platform saw IBM’s, Comcast’s, or Oracle’s ads next to that content, which Media Matters achieved only through its manipulation of X’s algorithms as described above. And in Apple’s case, only two out of more than 500 million active users saw its ad appear alongside the fringe content cited in the article—at least one of which was Media Matters.
Media Matters could have produced a fair, accurate account of users’ interactions with advertisements on X via basic reporting: following real users, documenting the actual, organic production of content and advertisement pairings. Had it done so, however, it would not have produced the outcome Media Matters so desperately desired, which was to tarnish X’s reputation by associating it with racist content. So instead, Media Matters chose to maliciously misrepresent the X experience with the intention of harming X and its business.

So the ads did appear next to neo-Nazi content, but it appears Media Matters was the only person/entity in the world who saw it and only then thanks to careful manipulation of the site to produce this specific result.