Since Elon Musk took ownership of Twitter on October 27, the average interactions on tweets from election denier Dinesh D’Souza have more than doubled, expanding the reach of a major source of disinformation and debunked conspiracy theories about the integrity of the 2020 election.
According to a Media Matters review of D’Souza’s tweets, he earned nearly 3.9 million interactions on 681 posts — averaging over 5,700 interactions per post during the 24-day period since Musk’s acquisition (between October 28 and November 20). This is a 144% increase from the more than 2,300 average interactions per post on D’Souza’s 682 posts from the 24-day period prior to the takeover.
D’Souza is a long-time troll and filmmaker best known for his inflammatory smears of Democrats and the left and unhinged pro-Trump commentary. His recent movie 2000 Mules took the right-wing media by storm, promoted far and wide across the echochamber as a way to keep false claims over voter fraud in the 2020 election alive in the years since Trump lost. An unfettered platform on Twitter will allow these types of conspiracy theories to spread even more easily. Musk himself recently liked a tweet from D’Souza that praised the platform under his management and replied: “Correct.”
D’Souza noted his increased engagement on his podcast, saying, “My own traction on Twitter has just exploded in the last few weeks and the reason can be put down to two words: Elon Musk” adding, “We’re delighted. I’m a big fan of Elon Musk because I think that what he’s doing is great.”
Some of D’Souza’s most engaged tweets since October 28 have promoted election denial and conspiracy theories about the attack on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi.
On November 17, D’Souza quote-tweeted a video that edited together footage of voters dropping ballots at drop boxes in Maricopa County, Arizona, with quotes from failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and reports from Fox News about Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ victory in the race. The video, set over ominous music, seems to suggest that the voters casting their vote were involved in some sort of undefined election fraud based on the vote tally shifting from Lake to Hobbs.
D’Souza’s tweet received over 41,000 likes, and the video has 1.4 million views as of this writing.
The account D’Souza quote tweeted, @Lauren3veMemes, has a verified blue check mark from subscribing to Twitter Blue, a subscription service launched by Musk that has since been postponed. Despite this, the program has allowed right-wing extremists and conspiracy theorists an opportunity to purchase a verified platform.
D’Souza has also shared multiple conspiracy theories about the attack on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband, falsely claiming the attacker was in his underwear when he was arrested, despite the allegation being retracted the same day it was first reported by a reporter for the local Fox affiliate in San Francisco, KTVU.
D’Souza’s tweet received nearly 50,000 likes. Another tweet falsely claiming Pelosi knew his attacker received over 83,000 likes.
D’Souza’s movie 2000 Mules, which pushed debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, has been a critical touchstone for the right-wing movement since its release in May of this year. The movie, which was based on unsubstantiated “research” from the QAnon connected group True the Vote, inspired conspiracy theorist Melody Jennings to launch a voter intimidation effort to “monitor” drop boxes in Maricopa County ahead of the midterms. Some of her volunteers showed up with what appeared to be weapons and wearing tactical gear.