How Many People Are Leaving Twitter?

File 770 usually has a tiny uptick of Twitter followers every month, and I happened to notice that what was tracking +19 a few days ago is now +6. Since I don’t think I did anything new to make people irate during the week I am going to guess it’s not about me and instead reflects the followers who have terminated their Twitter accounts because Elon Musk took over the service.

I’ve seen many Twitter users in the sff community discuss what course they should take once Musk assumed control because at times he has signaled there will be a radical change (for the worse) in content moderation and a weakening of rules enforcement. Some wrote they were thinking about leaving. I read a few announcements by others just before they did terminate their accounts. Their decisions are to some degree a protest, and an obviously more quantifiable one than the subtle changes that will be registered in other users who, although unhappy with developments, keep their accounts but filter more severely what they post, or simply post less.

I wondered if there was data that could be used to infer how many people have taken the step of actually quitting the service.

I laid the subject before John Scalzi and asked if he’d experienced a fluctuation in his large Twitter following this week. He had:

I was at 204.2K this time last week; I’m down to 202k today, so I’ve seen a drop of about 1%. When I noted that, other people also anecdotally noted similar percentage drops. My expectation is that the drops may be skewed by general political affiliation and/or antipathy to Musk, either as a person or with regard to his stated aims for the service. 1% is not a large number overall — I’ve had larger drops before when Twitter cleared out some bot accounts — but the question is whether these drops will stabilize, as they’ve done in the past, or continue as Musk continues to bumble along. If I drop below 200k, and especially if that happens by the end of this month, I will consider that not great news for Twitter’s general direction.

(Thanks to John for permission to quote his reply.)

That people are actually terminating their accounts speaks to their determination to separate themselves from the future of Twitter. Because there are easier alternatives, like just abandoning the account. Think how common that phenomenon is anywhere in social media where accounts are free. Therefore, the wave of departures from Twitter this week indicates an intentional message, and we will watch to see whether it is the start of a trend.

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61 thoughts on “How Many People Are Leaving Twitter?

  1. Well, the employees seem to be leaving Twitter in droves. I read one account that tried to contact the communication department for comment and found that there no longer is a communication department.

  2. @lisa garrity
    He fired them the very first week. (He fired the communications people at Tesla, long ago.)

  3. I seem to be the only one who didn’t get the memo about I’m on Mastodon as @[email protected]. We should all be able to follow each other anyway…except I haven’t figured out how to find any specific person except by dumb luck, or them following me first. Help?

  4. @Meredith, I’ve found this to be helpful. One complication to the “really easy” line is that you have to choose a server as your first step, and join the server. Everyone else here seems to have gotten the memo to join I didn’t, and am @[email protected]. It shouldn’t matter, because we can all follow each other anyway.

    If we can find each other. This article explains how to find and follow people you’ve been following on Twitter. I haven’t read all the way through yet, and still hope to find out how to find and follow Filers i wasn’t following on Twitter
    A Beginner’s Guide to Mastodon

  5. I’ll honestly be surprised if Twitter makes it past Thanksgiving.

    At least we still have File770!

  6. Committing to working 80-100 hour weeks, for the guy who spent the last six months trash-talking your company and who just fired your friends, for goals he can’t define but that you probably won’t like? I can see how that might not be attractive. And institutional knowledge, once lost, can be very hard to get back.

    How does that work? I dunno, ask Susan. We can’t, Elon fired her.

  7. @Lis:

    We should all be able to follow each other anyway…except I haven’t figured out how to find any specific person except by dumb luck, or them following me first. Help?

    If it helps — Debirdify is a handy tool to find people you follow on Twitter, who’ve put details for Mastodon.

    It’ll create a CSV file for you, which you can import into Mastodon to follow everybody it finds.

    And, well, most specific people who are on Mastodon, will have something to tell you where — on their Twitter or webpage or whatnot.

  8. @Standback–I’ve got the CSV file and have uploaded it, and am now following everyone I was following on Twitter that had enough info to be identified.

    And I can still only find them when they follow me back or something they posted shows up. I’m clearly missing something obvious.

  9. On an unrelated note, the GoComics site has been down without warning for two days now, which suggests they got hit by ransomeware. One should perhaps not depend too much on any internet service always working.

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