Hitting the milestone is interesting for a couple of reasons. First is the obvious fact that Musk is currently in the process of buying Twitter for $44 billion, which could eventually put him in the unique position of being the only leader of a major social media network who’s actually good at using their social media network. In contrast, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page is broadly a feed of press releases, while Instagram head Adam Mosseri has a similarly saccharine presence on the platform he manages.
Musk is an entirely different beast. Here’s how my colleague Elizabeth Lopatto recently described his Twitter persona:
Musk is a Poster for sure. Annoying, obnoxious, late to memes — but definitely a Poster. He uses Twitter as intended: as a direct line to his id. Has he planned to follow up on any of the stuff he tweets? Frequently, no. And that is what makes him so entertaining… Musk engages in name-calling, sometimes so intensely that he winds up with defamation lawsuits on his hands… Shit, one time Musk announced he was taking Tesla private on Twitter, generally to the surprise of Tesla, Tesla’s investors, and the SEC.
It’s honestly remarkable how different Musk’s Twitter usage is from the five other accounts to have hit the 100 million follower mark. Barack Obama’s account posts frequent updates, but they’re every bit as considered and presidential as you’d expect, while Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Cristiano Ronaldo have the kinds of Twitter presences that could only come from the collective brain of a professionally trained comms team. To his credit, I’d believe that Justin Bieber’s account is managed by the man himself, but he hasn’t tweeted since February 16th.
The second interesting aspect of Musk’s hitting 100 million followers is the question: how many of these accounts are real and how many are fake? Twitter has consistently estimated that less than 5 percent of the accounts on its platform are bots, but Musk has voiced concerns that the number could be far higher, and has threatened to walk away from his deal to buy Twitter if the company doesn’t provide more proof for its numbers.
Questions remain about whether Musk is actually concerned about Twitter spam bots, or whether he’s just using them as a pretext to negotiate a lower price for buying Twitter (here’s Bloomberg’s Matt Levine laying out the evidence). But, regardless, Twitter has reportedly responded by giving Musk a “firehose” of its data in response to Musk’s claims. But The Wall Street Journal reports that there are doubts anyone could draw meaningful conclusions from such a large amount of information within a reasonable timeframe.
Normally a prolific tweeter, Musk has hit the 100 million milestone after not tweeting for almost a week. His last post that wasn’t a reply to someone else was from June 21st, and apparently showed gas priced at $7.11 at 7-Eleven. Snopes reports that the image is actually from March 2021 and shows test pricing to promote the opening of a new store rather than being a reflection of soaring gas prices in 2022.