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NBC reporter comes under fire for claiming ‘apolitical’ users left Twitter over Elon Musk purchase


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NBC News reporter Ben Collins came under fire after claiming that “apolitical” Twitter users had left the social media site in droves over news that Elon Musk was purchasing the company. 

On Tuesday, Collins posted a statement from Twitter responding to the significant shifts in followers among prominent accounts, in which he noted that some users noticed “massive follower drop-offs.” 

“In short: The same day Elon Musk bought Twitter, a lot of people deactivated their accounts,” Collins said in part. 

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“We’ve been looking into recent fluctuations in follower counts. 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 said. ” We’ll continue looking into these follower count fluctuations and keep you updated.”

Twitter also called the shift in followers “organic” site traffic. 

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Employees at tables inside Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 17, 2022 with Elon Musk in the foreground. 

Employees at tables inside Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, March 17, 2022 with Elon Musk in the foreground. 
(Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Collins later followed up with a tweet that cherry-picked two prominent Twitter accounts, that of singer Katy Perry and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., noting that the former lost 200,000 followers while the latter gained 90,000. 

He used this comparison to proclaim that on the day Musk announced his Twitter takeover “apolitical users fled” the site, while “right-users joined.” Collins also included a link to an NBC News article he had published on the topic, which at no point provided evidence of his claims about so-called “apolitical” users. 

Some Twitter users were quick to call out Collins’ claims, such as New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, who said he’d read the article, and asked, “Isn’t it just as likely (to me, more intuitive) that they’d be on the political left?”

Other conservative accounts dinged Collins for claiming that those who left were “apolitical,” as opposed to those he knew were right-wing when they joined.

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Collins didn’t respond to a request for comment.



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