Prominent conservative figures have seen massive leaps in Twitter followers since Elon Musk’s takeover — with many questioning whether it reflected a sudden lifting of long-suspected shadowbans.
Donald Trump Jr. led the way in questioning the giant spike, which saw him gain 87,296 new followers by Tuesday — and another 119,022 by early Wednesday, after weeks of averaging only a few thousand each day.
“While I’m awesome and totally deserving of 87,000 new followers a day it seems that someone took the shackles off my account,” former President Donald Trump’s son wrote Tuesday.
“Wonder if they’re burning the evidence before new mgmt comes in?” he asked of a conspiracy spread online that Twitter’s progressive staffers were removing shadow bans on accounts.
“Seems Shadow Banning is yet another ‘right-wing conspiracy theory’ that was 100% true,” he said.
He was far from alone, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — eyed as a potential future Republican presidential candidate — getting more than 205,000 followers in the last few days, according to Social Blade analytics.
Fox News favorite Tucker Carlson — who celebrated the lifting of his Twitter ban Monday with a simple “We’re back” — gaining more than 141,000, after a run of mostly losing followers.
“It really is something how conservative accounts are getting massive follower increases today….” tweeted Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who saw more than 61,000 new followers since Musk’s takeover.
Conservative radio host Dana Loesch also said she was “noticing an increase in followers and engagement after losing huge chunks … for the past few years.”
“It’s too soon for Musk to have done this but I’m wondering if something was changed by those seeking to minimize their fingerprint ahead of potential transparency,” she wrote.
Senator Josh Hawley sent a formal Senate letter urging Musk to investigate the shadowbanning — as well as “who was responsible for deliberately suppressing the New York Post’s now-vindicated reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop and business dealings.”
“Here’s an idea for @elonmusk. Open the books on who Twitter has shadow banned, who Twitter has suspended, who they’ve throttled, and who was responsible for the egregious censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop reporting. Make it all public,” he tweeted along with the letter.
Twitter dismissed the conspiracy, however, insisting to NBC News that the fluctuations were “organic.”
Conservatives gaining followers
As conservatives returned to the site now promising free speech, liberals have been quitting in droves — with leading progressives seeing huge drops in followers, with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shedding more than 38,000 in the last few days.
“While we continue to take action on accounts that violate our spam policy which can affect follower counts, these fluctuations appear to largely be a result of an increase in new account creation and deactivation,” Twitter told NBC News in a statement.
Democrats losing followers:
Other right-wing voices, meanwhile, embraced hopes for dramatic changes to the site, including the return of many banned under the former leadership.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted, “Bring back President Trump. Bring back my personal account. Bring back Dr. Robert Malone. Bring back Alex Jones. Bring back Milo Yiannopoulos. Bring back the cancelled nation.
“Bring back freedom of speech. Bring back America!’