Elon Musk’s X follower count inflated by millions of new, inactive accounts

Elon Musk's X follower count inflated by millions of new, inactive accounts

Elon Musk’s Twitter Followers: A Closer Look

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and CEO of various companies, is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the world. It comes as no surprise, then, that he also holds the title of the most followed user on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, which he acquired in October of last year. With more than 153 million followers at the time of publication, Musk’s account, @ElonMusk, serves as a microcosm of the platform as a whole.

Unveiling Elon Musk’s X followers

As Musk garners attention with his outlandish tweets and bold statements, it’s natural to question who his followers are and what their level of activity on X is. To shed light on this, ENBLE has reviewed new data collected by third-party researcher Travis Brown. Brown meticulously compiled basic account information on all of Musk’s more than 153 million followers, respecting X’s rate limit parameters.

The findings are quite concerning.

The characteristics of Elon Musk’s X followers

The most pressing question that arises is whether Musk’s followers are fake. However, a more accurate term to describe them would be “inactive.” The data reveals that a significant portion of Musk’s followers does not actively use the platform. To be precise, 42 percent (over 65.3 million users) of Musk’s followers have zero followers on their own account. Additionally, more than 72 percent (nearly 112 million users) have less than 10 followers on their account.

In terms of content creation, over 62.5 million Musk followers have never tweeted, including accounts that have deleted all their tweets or have yet to post any. Moreover, over 100 million followers have less than 10 tweets on their account.

Another intriguing detail from Musk’s follower data is the timing of their account creation. Musk finalized his acquisition of Twitter on October 27, 2022. Surprisingly, more than 25 percent (38.9 million users) of Musk’s current followers created their accounts on or after that date.

The average number of followers for all accounts following Musk is around 187. However, according to Brown, the follower distribution is extremely skewed, rendering these averages less meaningful. In fact, the median number of followers for all accounts following Musk is just one.

Real or Fake? Analyzing the authenticity of Musk’s followers

Given the data described above, it is reasonable to question the authenticity of Musk’s followers. The data points to a combination of fake accounts, inactive users, and “lurkers” who merely consume content. Certain indicators have long been associated with fake or bot accounts on X. For instance, if an account uses the default avatar or an auto-generated username comprising a string of numbers, it is likely not a real, active user.

Around 25 percent (more than 38 million) of Musk’s followers use the default profile image provided by X for new accounts. Additionally, just under 50 million followers have @ handles with four or more numbers, suggesting that they may not be genuine users.

Furthermore, more than 43.8 million of Musk’s followers follow less than 10 users on X. Incredibly, around 13.5 million users follow only one account: @ElonMusk.

The revelation of X Premium (Twitter Blue) subscribers among Musk’s followers

Elon Musk has actively promoted X Premium, his $8 per month paid subscription service (formerly known as Twitter Blue), from his account. Musk highlights premium features such as the verification badge and monetization eligibility. Subscribing to X Premium has often been seen as a personal show of support for Musk.

However, according to the latest data on @ElonMusk’s followers, a mere 0.3 percent (approximately 453,000 users) subscribe to X Premium. Earlier reports by ENBLE, based on data compiled by Brown, estimated a total of around 830,000 X Premium subscribers.

Travis Brown, the researcher behind the data, strictly adheres to X’s boundaries, including the site’s API and rate limits, when collecting information on X Premium subscriptions. These limitations caused a delay in data collection. Consequently, the latest batch of over 200,000 accounts that followed Musk is not included in Brown’s data. Additionally, over 39,000 accounts collected have since self-deactivated, and nearly 6,000 followers had been suspended by the platform at the time of publication.

Musk recently claimed that X has over 540 million “monthly users.” If this number is accurate, it means that over 25 percent of platform accounts follow Musk. However, if these figures are inflated, it suggests an even larger percentage of the entire platform’s user base follows Musk. Given the considerable number of inactive or potentially fake followers associated with Musk, it appears that a significant portion of X’s overall user base may not be as active as previously thought.

In conclusion, Elon Musk’s dominance on X extends beyond being the most followed user. His followers represent a diverse range of users, many of whom are not active or potentially not real. With Musk’s influence continuing to grow, it will be intriguing to observe how this dynamic plays out on the platform.