Elon Musk surpasses 100 million Twitter followers but has gone silent on the platform

Tesla CEO Elon Musk departs from the justice center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Musk recently topped 100 million followers on Twitter and is still considering a purchase of the social media platform.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk departs from the justice center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Musk recently topped 100 million followers on Twitter and is still considering a purchase of the social media platform. (Matt Rourke, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Tesla/SpaceX CEO and world's richest person Elon Musk has not only built a reputation for being a prolific, and mercurial, Twitter super-user since joining the platform in 2009. He also has an outstanding, $44 billion offer to buy the social media giant.

As of Wednesday morning, and since June 21, Musk has been engaging in Twitter silence, even though since that day he's had a birthday, surpassed 100 million followers and, reportedly, received a boatload of Twitter user data, an issue that's been holding up the purchase deal, according to Musk.

There's also been a seismic ruling by the Supreme Court that effectively reverses the long-standing protections of Roe v. Wade and Tuesday was Election Day across numerous states with outcomes foreshadowing what's in store in November's midterm elections, where the balance of power in the nation's congressional branch is likely to be reconfigured.

So, what's up with Elon?

From firehose to trickle to nada. Over the five weeks leading up to June 16, Musk averaged 145 tweets and retweets per week, or about 21 per day, according to Axios. That was the day an open letter appeared signed by SpaceX employees, characterizing Musk's tweets as "a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment." Some of the letter's signatories were promptly fired, but Musk's tweeting promptly slowed down, too, and ceased entirely after June 21.

Musk did not publicly share any indication before June 21 that he would be taking a break from his favorite social media pulpit but at least one person has seen and spoken to Musk since the curtain dropped on his tweet show.

Johnna Crider, a reporter for renewable energy news site CleanTechnica, said she interviewed Musk at the Tesla factory in Texas, according to Newsweek.

"Many ppl are worried about @elonmusk since he's been offline for some time," Crider tweeted. "I saw him yesterday at Giga TX. The fact that he took the time to meet with me was awesome. His focus was on working but he's safe and healthy."

Musk's Twitter past is checkered, at best. Musk's Twitter account passed the 100 million follower mark earlier this week (the site showed him with 100.2 million followers on Wednesday) and is now the No. 6 most-followed Twitter user, behind Barack Obama, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Cristiano Ronaldo (in that order).

While Musk's tweets generate a torrent of traffic, his output has sometimes also come with a steep price tag.

A Musk tweet dropped back in 2018, claiming he was taking Tesla private for $420 per share, led to an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that ultimately fined Musk individually and Tesla $20 million each for communications that led to "significant market disruption."

Following the SEC ruling on the misconduct and resultant fines, Musk again took to Twitter to share his sentiment.

"Worth It," Musk tweeted.

Musk is no stranger to weighing in on political or social issues, Newsweek reports. In recent months, he has tweeted about "annoyingly wrong" environmentalists; identified himself as a moderate centrist who will vote Republican; and has repeatedly voiced concern about population decline due to low birth rates in some countries, which he called "the biggest threat to civilization."

Musk has also maintained his Twitter silence in spite of receiving, according to The Wall Street Journal, a trove of Twitter user data earlier this week. That information sharing appears to address the heart of Musk's decision in mid-May to put the $44 billion Twitter purchase deal on hold. Musk has questioned Twitter's self-reported figures when it comes to the number of fake accounts on the platform.

Twitter has long maintained that 5% or fewer of its roughly 230 million users track back to fake accounts. Musk believes the number is much higher.

But data scientists and specialists doubt the massive data set will provide Musk the conclusive answers he seeks about the number of phony accounts on the platform, per the Journal.

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Art Raymond

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