Elon Musk’s Twitter continues to favor right-wing content, reinstating dozens of accounts with millions of combined followers
New Twitter CEO Elon Musk is seemingly continuing to favor right-wing content during his effort to reinstate previously suspended accounts as part of his misguided vision of transforming Twitter into the “digital town square.”
This week, Media Matters analyzed independent software developer Travis Brown’s data sets that were released between December 14-20 and include recently reinstated Twitter accounts. After narrowing down the data to the 50 most followed accounts, we found that 60% of these accounts pushed right-wing content to their over 6 million combined followers.
Since taking control of the platform, Musk has reinstated thousands of accounts, many of which have pushed misinformation, right-wing talking points, and white nationalist ideology.
Over the last week, Musk — a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” — baselessly suspended multiple journalists for supposedly violating Twitter’s new “doxxing” policy or a briefly updated policy against the promotion of other social media platforms. (The accounts have all been reinstated and the latter policy was quickly revoked.) The day after suspending many of these journalists, Musk reinstated a dozen more right-wing accounts, including a white nationalist who attended the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.
Media Matters found that out of the 50 reinstated accounts from last week with the most followers, 30 accounts — or 60% — were right-wing. Only 2 accounts — or 4% — were left-wing. These newly reinstated accounts include anti-Muslim extremists, far-right activists, election deniers, and others who have pushed COVID-19 misinformation.
Here are some of the right-wing accounts reinstated under Musk’s leadership last week:
- James O’Keefe is the founder of Project Veritas who was banned from Twitter in April 2021. Since being reinstated on December 16, O’Keefe proclaimed that he is back “like I never left,” and has returned to promoting Project Veritas' manufactured and deceptively edited content to push right-wing narratives.
- Mike Lindell is the disgraced CEO of MyPillow and has heavily pushed the narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and used his Twitter comeback to continue to cast doubt on the U.S. election system. Lindell was banned in January 2021 for violating the platform’s misinformation policies.
- The Gateway Pundit is a right-wing website run by Jim Hoft that was banned from Twitter in February 2021, seemingly for pushing misinformation about the 2020 election. Hoft thanked Musk for his reinstatement and has since amplified right-wing accounts undermining COVID-19 vaccines and promoted content that contains election misinformation.
- Pamela Geller is “one of the most flamboyant anti-Muslim activists in the United States,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and she was banned in February 2021 for pushing election misinformation.
- Shiva Ayyadurai was suspended from Twitter in February 2021 and is a QAnon-linked former Republican gubernatorial candidate. Though seemingly reinstated on December 16, his first tweet was on December 20. He later promoted his website where people can pay to “educate your local community on issues of the day with real solutions, beyond ‘Left’ & ‘Right’ or ‘Pro-’ & ‘Anti-’.”
- Naomi Wolf was suspended from Twitter in June 2021 for violating the platform's COVID misinformation policies. After being reinstated, she tweeted, “Greetings. Signed, Deplatformed seven times and still right.”
- Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor for conservative outlet TheBlaze who was banned in June for violating Twitter’s COVID-19 misinformation policies. He was reinstated on December 16 and has continued to promote information undermining vaccines.
- UncoverDC is a QAnon-linked website that was banned in January 2021 after posting a series of tweets casting doubt on the 2020 election. The account was reinstated on December 15.
- Young Pharaoh is an online commentator whose invitation to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2021 was revoked after pushing antisemitism. He was banned from Twitter shortly after.