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Who has left and who has returned to Twitter over Elon Musk takeover?

‘I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 26 April 2022 17:17 BST
Elon Musk buys Twitter for $44bn
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Elon Musk’s $44bn Twitter takeover is prompting some users to leave the platform while others are returning.

Following the announcement that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s offer to buy the social media platform was accepted, several well-known users announced that they were considering leaving Twitter or using it in a different way.

Multiple hashtags started trending, possibly indicating that users were leaving en masse, but the #GoodByeTwitter hashtag was also used by many to mock supposed liberals unable to accept Mr Musk’s expected free speech policies.

In a statement on Monday, Mr Musk said “free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy” and that Twitter is the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated”.

“I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans,” he added.

“Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” he said.

Many high-profile users said they would stay, while others announced their retirement from the platform. Some simply said they hadn’t made up their mind if they would remain.

Jameela Jamil

Actress Jameela Jamil tweeted that “one good thing about Elon buying twitter is that I will *FINALLY* leave and stop being a complete menace to society on here. So it’s win win for you all really”.

In a final tweet, Ms Jamil posted pictures of herself with her dog and told her one million followers: “Ah he got twitter. I would like this to be ... what lies here as my last tweet. Just really *any* excuse to show pics of Barold. I fear this free speech bid is going to help this hell platform reach its final form of totally lawless hate, bigotry, and misogyny. Best of luck.”

Charles Blow

New York Times columnist Charles Blow announced his exit as the deal was nearing, writing, “Looks like I’m about to say goodbye to Twitter as well. I’ve been pulling back a bit from social media anyway. This will be just the push I need to go all the way on this app”.

Henrik Fisker

The account of Danish-American CEO Henrik Fisker, the head of the US-based electric vehicle designer Fisker, was deactivated shortly after the Musk deal was announced.

According to EV, Mr Fisker’s last post encouraged his followers to “please follow me on IG (Instagram) from now on if you want updates”.

Walter Shaub

The Former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub tweeted that “Twitter is about to become unbearably bad with a billionaire man baby in charge. Don’t know how much longer I’ll stick around. But I want to thank all of you for the time we’ve had together!”

“I have only been using Instagram for silly stuff. But, as bad as Zuckerberg is, nothing is worse than Elon Musk. So I’ll probably change my approach to be more serious there. If you want to join me on IG, here’s my account,” he added.

“Look at the bright side. You’ve been saying to yourself for years that you should spend less time on Twitter. Elon Musk is about to make that easy for you by making this place an absolute hell hole. The down side, of course, is all the violence he’ll help the fascists organize,” he wrote.

“The only people happier than Elon a Musk with his purchase of Twitter today are Trump and Putin. This is a victory for the people who want to destroy democracy,” he added.

Starlee Kine

Radio producer Starlee Kine tweeted that it was “time to leave”.

“I don’t care what he does with it. I refuse to enable his entitlement. He sucks. They all suck. They’re ruining the world. When they could be saving it,” she added.

Howard Dean

Former Vermont Governor, 2004 presidential candidate, and former chair of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean wrote: “Hi Twitterverse. Many thanks for the knowledge and sharing over the past ten years or so. If Musk takes over Twitter I will be off within a few hours. Might be just as well for my well being but I’ve learned a lot of valuable stuff from many of you. Thank you all.”

John Dean

Nixon White House Counsel and Watergate witness John Dean wrote, “not sure I am interested in Twitter if Elon Musk owns it”.

Shaun King

Civil rights activist Shaun King appears to have removed his Twitter account. Before Mr Musk’s takeover was approved by Twitter, Mr King tweeted that Mr Musk “wanting to purchase Twitter is not about left vs right. It’s about white power. The man was raised in Apartheid by a white nationalist”.

“He’s upset that Twitter won’t allow white nationalists to target/ harass people. That’s his definition of free speech,” he added.

“Elon Musk has openly called himself a ‘free speech absolutist’ and said that he wants to create a space where anything can be said about anyone. That’s why white nationalists are giddy today. Here on Twitter and other platforms that I track daily. It’s dangerous,” the activist added.

“And listen, I don’t even like the Democratic Party. So for me, this isn’t about left vs right. Not at all. It’s about how the richest man in the world, a son of Apartheid, raised by a white nationalist, wants to be sure his speech, and that of other white men, isn’t censored,” he said.

Tucker Carlson

Others announced their return to the platform, such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who simply wrote “we’re back”.

The previous tweet on his account was posted on 22 March.

Mark Levin

On 8 January 2021, two days after the Capitol riot, right-wing radio and Fox News host Mark Levin wrote, “I have suspended my own Twitter account in protest against Twitter’s fascism. I ask all my followers to join me now on Parler and Rumble”.

This was seemingly in response to Twitter’s removal of then-President Donald Trump from the platform.

On Monday, Mr Levin tweeted: “Thanks to new ownership, I’ve decided to come back!”

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