The Last Twitter Census

This report compares two large random samples of Twitter accounts that tweet in English: one taken just before Elon Musk acquired Twitter in October 2022, and one taken three months later, in January 2023. It also examines several related datasets collected during the period following the acquisition, a period in which, the study found, new accounts were created at a record-breaking pace. Some extremist and conspiracy networks created accounts faster than the baseline rate, probably because changes to Twitter’s trust and safety policies had been announced. In the context of these policy announcements, the study examines some reinstated accounts, with mixed results. Despite the loosening of several content policies, accounts that automated the sending of tweets (‘bots’) saw activity drop sharply during the period of the study, with many bot accounts being suspended or deactivated, while others voluntarily curtailed their activity in light of the API changes announced. Deactivated accounts were dominated by sex- related content and apparent financial spam or scams, often coupled with automated tweeting.

Tags: Twitter