How Twitter Became Celebrities’ Least-Favorite Social Platform

Now that Elon Musk has bought Twitter, all eyes are on the company’s most followed celebrity accounts. Will they continue to use the app despite the change in ownership – and the new owner’s vow to uphold non-PR friendly “freedom of speech” – or will they steal the cage?

Since Musk’s best and final offer was announced, no A-listers have weighed in on the purchase. This could be due to the political controversy surrounding the deal. But the stars are more likely to remain silent over something that could end up becoming a trickier issue for Musk: Although many of them have been obsessed with the platform, the big celebrities just aren’t using it. a lot Twitter.

Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande both quit Twitter after being avid users. Elon Musk bought the platform in April 2022. (GETTY IMAGES)
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Musk himself is aware of this. He tweeted a list of the account’s 10 most-followed platforms on April 9, when rumors of a potential Twitter buy had just begun, with the caption: “Most of these ‘top’ accounts rarely tweet and post very little content. Is Twitter dying?”

What are the biggest celebrity Twitter accounts?

Currently, the top 10 celebrity accounts on Twitter, according to SocialBlade, are:

  1. Barack Obama: 131 million followers
  2. Justin Bieber: 114 million followers
  3. Katy Perry: 108 million followers
  4. Rihanna: 106 million followers
  5. Cristiano Ronaldo: 99 million followers
  6. Taylor Swift: 90 million followers
  7. Lady Gaga: 84 million followers
  8. Elon Musk: 85 million followers
  9. The Ellen Show: 77 million followers

Two users are actually missing from this list: Ariana Grande, who apparently deactivated her 85 million subscriber account without any explanation in 2021, and Donald Trump, who was banned to 88 million subscribers after the insurgency. January 6.

Ironically, the now-banned former president and Barack Obama were the only people in the top 10, aside from Musk himself, to tweet frequently. (Obama’s tweets, however, are more like press releases about his current plans, while Musk’s and Trump’s posts have always had a crazier flair.)

After tweeting the list, Musk himself pointed out that Swift had only posted once in the last three months and that Bieber had only used Twitter once in 2022. And far from the content of he posting to Instagram with his wife and famous friends was an expression of encouragement for Canada’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team.

And while stars like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift don’t often interact directly with Twitter, their fans dominate the platform. Stan’s Armies — and their mean, slippery half-sisters, the Robot Armies — thrive on Twitter, doing the dirty work of celebrities — whether they’ve been asked to do so or not. Taylor Swift’s biggest fans have taken to the platform after her latest string of song releases, not only to congratulate their queen, but also to post ominous red scarf emojis in a veiled attack on Jake Gyllenhaal. And Beyonce fans made headlines when they berated Billie Eilish after the latter beat the former for an Oscar. Neither star appears to be using the platform as anything more than an official PR-sanctioned news feed.

The glory days of Twitter celebrities

Why do these accounts have so many followers despite their lack of engagement with the platform? Once upon a time, Twitter was the first port of call for celebrities to weigh in on the topics of the day, set the record straight on news about them, or share mundane details about their lives with fans.

One of the unique selling points of the platform when it debuted in 2006 was that celebrities and civilians had the same status and ability to tune in on the app, although celebrities normally had a large following. wider. Closed social platforms like Facebook — and later, Snapchat — didn’t offer celebrities the same mass-streaming potential. Many have been tempted to create an account and speak directly to their fans instead of relying on publicists and entertainment media to get their message across.

In Twitter’s initial heyday, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were Hollywood’s buzzing couple du jour. The couple took to Twitter to applaud the negative press in an unfiltered and seemingly unsanctioned PR way. Crucially, in an era before Instagram, Moore and Kutcher tweeted amorous selfies and even posted partially nude photos on the app.

Elon Musk paid 7 times the total net worth of Jack Dorsey to buy Twitter. In this photo, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk speaks during the Tesla Giga Texas “Cyber ​​Rodeo” grand opening party in Austin, Texas on April 7, 2022.

But in 2010, Instagram was invented. The photo-sharing platform knocked Twitter off its celebrity-relations pedestal for several reasons. For one thing, image is everything to an artist and Instagram is literally built for images. Photos are often a more familiar medium to celebrities than the written word. Second, something about the writing – even if it’s limited to 40 characters – often encourages people to share their opinions. And opinions are much more controversial than pretty pictures.

Simply put, uncontroversial tweets don’t create hype. Before Instagram, Kim Kardashian’s goofy and innocuous tweets failed to shake things up in terms of media coverage. But when she started posting on Instagram in earnest, she quickly rose to the platform’s top 10 users and is now considered one of the world’s first bona fide influencers.

It all comes down to the fact that celebrities can create positive hype and headlines in photos – buy that new bag, look at my adorable kid, here’s my new boyfriend – much easier than they can in writing.

Celebrities feel safer on Instagram

It’s not just the ease of posting a photo that stars love. In fact, many Instagram photos look anything but easy to create: they now appear as heavily edited and art-driven as a magazine. What stars really love about Instagram is the ability to control a story and insulate themselves from critics on the app, even when a post goes viral.

When celebrities post on Instagram, they can limit who can comment on their photos. This prevents stars from seeing too many negative comments and feeling overwhelmed. It also carefully erases any stories that don’t support those of the celebrity. Even before the Limit Comments feature, celebrities (or their publicists) could delete any comments that rubbed them the wrong way.

Twitter has also made a similar option to limit replies available to users. But the entire platform of Twitter is actually one big comments section, so limiting comments may defeat the purpose of tweeting. Plus, people can always capture or quote a tweet they’d like to rip. Celebrities rarely use the limit comments option on Twitter.

Going viral on Twitter can lead to increased attention, positive or negative. The ironic name for being in the Twitter hot seat is “becoming the main character.” Probably the most famous civilian main character on Twitter is Justine Sacco, who lost her job after tweeting a joke about AIDS. Twitter’s most famous main characters included Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj in a double act when they fronted the MTV VMAs in 2015. Neither woman came out of the row with positive headlines.

Instagram posts have also resulted in their fair share of scandals and negative celebrity headlines. But it is easier for users of this platform to insulate themselves from critics. As more and more celebrities talk about how being in the public eye is taking a toll on their mental health, Sinead O’Connor, Nicki Minaj, Chrissy Teigen and Millie Bobby Brown have all occasionally given up on the application because they found it too negative or toxic.

Chrissy Teigen
Chrissy Teigen publicly apologized for tweets directed at Courtney Stodden in 2011.
Amanda Edwards/WireImage

Model Teigen was considered one of Twitter’s first stars. But after being canceled in 2021 for resurfacing tweets and DMs, she said she couldn’t take it anymore. “It no longer serves me as positively as it does negatively, and I think now is a good time to call something out,” she tweeted as part of a four-part swan song on Twitter.

But then, 22 days later, she came back. “Turns out it’s TERRIBLE to shut up and no longer enjoy random belly laughs throughout the day and also lose like 2000 friends at once lol,” she wrote.

Teigen isn’t all celebrities. Twitter was fundamental in its origin story as a household name. But she called joining the platform “tak[ing] evil with good.” Not all celebrities are so thick-skinned. And with Musk’s vow to make Twitter more free-speech friendly, they’re likely to stay in relatively safer pastures. from Instagram.


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