GOP politicians lost tens of thousands of followers after Twitter purged QAnon accounts. Here's who lost the most.

GOP politicians lost tens of thousands of followers after Twitter purged QAnon accounts. Here's who lost the most.
GOP officials lost thousands of followers after Twitter's purge of QAnon-related accounts.SOPA / Getty Images
  • GOP elected officials lost thousands of Twitter followers over the weekend as the company cracked down on QAnon accounts in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill riot.
  • Insider analyzed the Twitter followings of the entire GOP congressional caucus and every Republican governor tracked by Social Blade — 94% have lost followers since January 6.
  • More than 100,000 of Rep. Jim Jordan's and Sen. Rand Paul's followers were purged or defected. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's Twitter following dropped by more than 80,000, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's dropped by more than 70,000.
  • Reps. Clay Higgins and Devin Nunes lost the largest share of their followers, each shedding more than 15%.
  • Congressional Democrats did not experience comparable declines, Insider found.

Nearly every major GOP elected official has hemorrhaged Twitter followers since the company cracked down on QAnon accounts following the riot at the Capitol on January 6, according to Insider's analysis of the lawmakers' public profiles.

Republican lawmakers lost nearly 6,000 followers on average over the weekend, with some follower counts dropping by more than 100,000.

Twitter announced on Tuesday that it had suspended more than 70,000 accounts. "Given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm, we began permanently suspending thousands of accounts that were primarily dedicated to sharing QAnon content on Friday afternoon," the company said.
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Last week, Twitter permanently barred President Donald Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn, his former attorney Sidney Powell, and the 8chan founder Ron Watkins, all of whom have played a prominent role in amplifying QAnon content. They and other banned accounts, Twitter said, "were engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service."

On Friday, Twitter permanently suspended Trump over a pair of tweets, published during the Capitol riot, that it said were "likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021."

The scale of lesser-known removals did not go unnoticed. Prominent conservative figures from Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Dave Rubin to Bari Weiss publicly complained about losing followers.
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Most Republican officials lost followers after Twitter began purging QAnon-related accounts

Insider analyzed the Twitter followers of 248 GOP lawmakers and governors, using data collected from Social Blade. Our analysis did not include newly elected lawmakers who took office on January 3 or less influential officials not tracked by Social Blade.

The analysis found that 94% of major GOP elected officials lost followers after the Capitol Hill riot. Democrats, meanwhile, did not experience the same declines. Business Insider performed the same analysis on the Democratic caucus' Twitter accounts and found that 93% lost no followers over the weekend; those who did lost no more than 0.15% of their followings.
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Dozens of Republican lawmakers lost more than 10% of their entire Twitter base, including outgoing Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who enthusiastically accepted an endorsement from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon supporter, before a runoff election earlier this month. Reps. Clay Higgins and Devin Nunes lost the greatest share of followers, each shedding more than 15%.

By sheer number of followers lost, Rep. Jim Jordan, Sen. Rand Paul, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy topped the list of legislators, dropping 149,564, 115,770, and 88,627 followers from last Thursday to Monday afternoon.

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota - who reportedly greeted Trump in August with a replica of Mount Rushmore bearing his likeness - lost more followers than any other governor: nearly 48,000, about 12% of her following on the platform.
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A few Republican politicians emerged unscathed from Twitter's crackdown. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah attracted 24,100 followers over the weekend, while Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois picked up more than 50,000, a 41% gain.

Twitter's wave of suspensions only partially explains why Republican officials lost so many followers

Some figures cited above are significantly higher than the number of accounts Twitter said it removed, suggesting that additional factors are at play, such as the routine removal of bots or a loss of public favor brought on by the attack on the Capitol.

"It is against the Twitter Rules to engage in spamming behavior, including bulk, aggressive, or deceptive activity. That's why we routinely deploy anti-spam challenges to accounts to fight this behavior and protect the public conversation," Twitter said. Such removals are temporary, and accounts are restored once the owners verify their authenticity.
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Despite an outcry from conservatives - some of whom described the measure as the largest online purge in history - Twitter has reacted with greater severity and less transparency in the past. In 2018, the company said it had suspended more than 1.2 million accounts associated with publishing terrorist content since 2015.

Twitter declined to comment. Most officials who were highly affected by Twitter's recent action did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Higgins told Insider: "This purge is just Twitter's latest abuse of power. It's a suppression of free speech. Twitter wants to completely silence Conservative voices. It's part of the Left's ongoing effort to cancel anyone they deem unworthy."
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We will update this article if we receive additional responses.

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