Many Twitter users have vowed to quit in the days after Elon Musk’s October 27 acquisition of Twitter was verified by his tweet that “the bird is liberated.” They are upset with the new ownership.
People often make threats to quit Twitter but never really do so, according to new research, but this time it seems that a sizable portion of users is actually doing so.
Between October 27 and November 1, according to the company Bot Sentinel, which monitors fraudulent activity on Twitter by monitoring more than 3.1 million accounts and their daily activity, around 877,000 accounts were suspended and another 497,000 were deleted. That’s more than twice as many as normal.
The creator of Bot Sentinel, Christopher Bouzy, notes a rise in the number of account deactivations and Twitter account suspensions.
Bouzy and Bot Sentinel calculated their figures by taking the percentage of users they monitor who had their accounts suspended or deactivated as a result of Musk’s takeover of Twitter and multiplying it by the total number of users on Twitter, which is currently estimated to be around 237 million “monetizable daily active users.”
Bot Sentinel discovered that 11,535 of the accounts they were tracking between October 27 and November 1 had been deactivated, which means someone had decided to terminate an account.
6,824 more accounts were suspended, which occurs when Twitter proactively deletes accounts for inactivity, impersonation, or breaking site policies. That is around 0.59% of the accounts Bot Sentinel keeps track of.
Only 5,958 accounts were suspended or deleted in the week before Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, indicating a 208% surge in account losses in the days following the transaction.
According to Bouzy, who cites anecdotal evidence of users commenting about leaving the site, “We think the rise in deactivations is a consequence of people disgruntled with Elon Musk owning Twitter and electing to cancel their accounts in protest.”
Manoel Ribeiro, a researcher at EPFL Lausanne in Switzerland who focuses on the alt-right and other specialized online groups and how algorithms and moderation practices impact them, concurs. Many seem to be making an effort to switch to other platforms, such as Mastodon, he claims.
A request for comment from Twitter did not immediately get a response. An email sent to Elon Musk was not immediately answered.
Bouzy thinks that some users are pushing the boundaries of what they can and cannot say on the site now that it is under Musk’s control, which is why she thinks the number of account suspensions has increased.
We also think the rise in suspensions is the result of Twitter taking action against accounts that deliberately break the rules to test the bounds of “free expression,” the author adds. It is unclear what percentage of Twitter users that have been suspended have been found to be fake accounts (i.e., bots) as opposed to violating the platform’s guidelines for appropriate speech.
Research conducted independently by the Network Contagion Research Institute showed that the usage of the n-word on Twitter skyrocketed by about 500% in the 12 hours after Musk’s announcement that the sale had been finalized.
Numerous instances of offensive “copypasta,” which refers to text blocks that are copied and pasted into postings and are common among 4chan members, are also being uploaded without repercussions at the same time.
The firm has recently restricted access to content moderation tools for the majority of its trust and safety staff, which coincides with the rise in hate speech. According to Bloomberg, just 15 employees have access to the tools that would allow them to delete content, but hundreds often do.
Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, stated that the change was intended to “limit the potential for insider risk” and was part of the company’s transformation. Ribeiro notes that the site also includes automatic moderation capabilities that function in addition to human moderators.
It’s the first sign of a bigger issue for Twitter, according to Savvas Zannettou, an assistant professor at the Delft University of Technology and a key member of the multi-institution iDRAMA Lab, a research group that examines fringe online groups.
I believe this is the beginning of the huge exodus from the platform, the man claims. “I think there will likely be further waves of people quitting Twitter as the new Twitter begins rolling out improvements.”
In the long term, according to Bouzy, Twitter’s unfriendly climate will encourage user turnover. According to him, the site would have serious issues if consumers keep mass-deactivating their accounts. “Twitter will not be any different from Parler or Truth Social if left-leaning and marginalized individuals abandon the network.”
Source: MIT Technologyreview