Twitter Account Deactivations Have Skyrocketed Amid Musk Takeover Controversy

Twitter has a long history of upsetting users who then vow to delete their accounts and move elsewhere to get their microblogging fix. Mastodon often sees a surge in interest and users during these times of revolt, but the complaints typically die down quickly and people quietly get over their anger, remaining on their respective accounts and tweeting like usual. That doesn't appear to be the case this time around, however, as many people have followed through on deleting their Twitter accounts now that Elon Musk has taken ownership of the company.

Musk, who has been controversial for years, finalized his Twitter acquisition in late October 2022. The billionaire's planned changes for his new company kicked off nearly immediately, and word soon surfaced that employees were ordered to work 24/7 in an effort to push out the Twitter Blue subscription ahead of a variety of other features. The effort comes despite then-rumored and now-confirmed plans to lay off potentially thousands of Twitter employees by the end of this week.

Amid the chaos is a revelation from Bot Sentinel (via MIT Technology Review), a company that uses machine learning and AI to analyze tweets and determine which of them are inauthentic. Those same tools have potentially revealed how many Twitter users have abandoned the platform since Musk took charge, and the number is already massive. 

A million Twitter users may have abandoned ship

According to data analyzed by Bot Sentinel, Twitter has already lost 877,000 users, give or take, and nearly half a million other accounts have been suspended. This number is huge, but only becomes startingly when you consider the timeframe in which this happened: four days spanning from October 27, the day Musk announced that the Twitter deal had been finalized, and November 1. Though the number of Twitter accounts in existence at any given time is always in flux, MIT reports that the number of suspended and deactivated accounts doubled during those four days compared to what is seen on average.

The suspended Twitter accounts differ from the deactivations, of course: a deactivation is when a user makes the decision to shut down their own account, while a suspension is something Twitter applies to an account. The company has had to crack down on a number of trolls and hateful accounts that caused abuse and racism to skyrocket on Twitter in the days surrounding Musk's acquisition. Though the reasons these accounts were suspended in recent days are unknown, it's likely safe to say they violated the company's rules... or maybe they were just a bunch of bots all along.