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Obama, Kim Kardashian, other top Twitter stars quiet on Musk’s changes

While some reports have described a veritable exodus of star power from Twitter after Elon Musk took control of the company last week, the platform’s most-followed celebrities have said nothing, proceeding with business as usual over the past few days, using it to promote their causes, upcoming projects and commercial brands.

Former President Barack Obama continued to use his account, Twitter’s most followed, to urge his 133 million followers to vote in the Nov. 8 midterm elections and to support Democratic candidates in hotly contested Senate and Congressional elections.

Katy Perry, who has the fourth most followed account, shared tweets with her 108 million followers to promote her brand partnership with Lego, her fashion line and her upcoming appearance at the Country Music Awards.

FUERSTENWALDE, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 03: Tesla head Elon Musk arrives to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on September 03, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany. Musk is currently in Germany where he met with vaccine maker CureVac on Tuesday, with which Tesla has a cooperation to build devices for producing RNA vaccines, as well as German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier yesterday. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Tesla head Elon Musk arrives to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on September 03, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images) Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Rihanna (107 million followers) promoted her new song, “Lift Me Up”; Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (104 million followers) celebrated an on-field victory; Taylor Swift (91.6 million) announced new dates for her Eras tour; Ellen DeGeneres (77 million followers) recalled the time on her show she asked Nick Cannon how many children he wanted to have; and Kim Kardashian (74 million followers) wished her younger sister, Kendall Jenner, happy birthday and contemplated whether she should go back to being a brunette.

Thus, it appears that some of the most influential people on Twitter seem inclined to carry on with tweeting in their usual way, no doubt because it’s useful to them or their brand, and to ignore all the furor ignited over Musk becoming company’s new CEO and owner.

Incidentally, Musk appears to have recently surpassed Justin Bieber in having the second-most followed account. Musk has 114 million followers, while Bieber has 113 million, even though the pop singer hasn’t posted anything since Sept. 6.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 14: Katy Perry performs onstage with Zedd at Coachella Stage during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 14, 2019 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella)
INDIO, CA – APRIL 14: Katy Perry performs onstage with Zedd at Coachella Stage during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 14, 2019 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Coachella) 

Musk, of course, used his massive following to announce charges that prompted a number of celebrities, including Shonda Rhimes, Ken Olin, Sara Bareilles and Toni Braxton, to declare they were bailing on the  platform. Rhimes, Olin, Bareilles and Braxton have 1.9 million, 291,000, 2.8 million and 1.8 million, respectively.

They and others have expressed various concerns, including that Musk, a self-styled free-speech absolutist, will relax content moderation and reverse the ban on former President Donald Trump, allowing hate speech and disinformation to increase.

“Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye,” producer and showrunner Rhimes tweeted Saturday.

“I’m shocked and appalled at some of the “free speech” I’ve seen on this platform since (Musk’s) acquisition,” Braxton tweeted the same day. “Hate speech under the veil of ‘free speech’ is unacceptable; therefore I am choosing to stay off Twitter as it is no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC.”

Others despaired over the way Musk carried out the layoffs of thousands of Twitter employees Friday, while horror author Stephen King and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took issue with the CEO’s plan to charge a monthly fee for verified Twitter users to keep their blue checkmarks.

Following Musk’s initial proposal to charge a $20 monthly fee, King shared a dismissive tweet Monday to his 6.9 million followers that went viral.

“$20 a month to keep my blue check?” King tweeted. “(Expletive) that, they should pay me. If that gets instituted, I’m gone like Enron.” When a Twitter user told King he could afford the fee, King replied: “It ain’t the money, it’s the principle of the thing.”

Elon Musk and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (The Associated Press/AP)
Elon Musk and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (The Associated Press/AP) 

Musk responded directly to King on Twitter, writing, “We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot entirely rely on advertisers. How about $8?”

Musk faced more criticism for the fee from Ocasio-Cortez, who she tweeted Tuesday, “Lmao at a billionaire earnestly trying to sell people on the idea that ‘free speech’ is actually a $8/mo subscription plan.” The Democratic New York representative, with 13.5 million followers, then said Wednesday that her Twitter account was experiencing technical issues following her online disagreement Musk, CBS News reported.

Musk doubled-down on his plan to charge a fee in a series of tweets. “To all complainers, please continue complaining, but it will cost $8,” he also wrote. 

So far, none of the accounts of people who said they were leaving Twitter have been deleted, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

Bette Midler (2.1 million followers) criticized Musk’s takeover Saturday by predicting that the site would “instantly devolve into #RadioRwanda,” the Times reported. But this week, she was using Twitter to promote “Hocus Pocus 2,” argue in favor of abortion rights and denounce 2020 election deniers.




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