The Twitter Exodus: are we coming or going?

Twitter users have been bracing themselves to see Elon Musk’s vision for the platform. Now it seems he has his sights on the coveted blue tick.

The internet is currently buzzing with opinions on Elon Musk’s divisive Twitter takeover, but what does the data say?

While Twitter has told advertisers that user growth is at an all time high, the search data paints a picture of users that are unsure of their future on the platform. Since the start of the month, searches for “how to delete twitter” are up 96%, “how to delete my twitter account” is up 56%, and even the simple “delete twitter” has seen an increase of 61%. Based on the timeline of these searches, it’s certain that these searches have been influenced by the takeover, and while users may not be leaving just yet, they’re clearly looking into the possibility. However, let’s not disregard the 35% increase in interest to “join Twitter”, almost certainly driven by fans of the billionaire not already on the site looking to join up and show their support.

The elephant in the room

One of the key players in users migrating to other Twitter-like services is Mastodon, an open-source software that features similar micro-blogging aspects to Twitter. Going into the research, Mastodon was expected to have some increased searches, but an increase of 1011% since the start of the month is still very surprising.

A 44% increase in searches for “what is Mastodon” shows that people are not just searching for the site, but also looking to find out more about it. Not only that, but “join Mastodon” has jumped 69%, so not only are people finding out more about this alternative, but they’re looking to join up, too. It’s not just Mastodon that has seen jumps either, with even generic searches for “Twitter alternatives” seeing a boost of 36%.

What does the expert say?

Michelle Stark, sales and marketing director at Fasthosts, who carried out the research, said: “When we launched this research, we definitely expected there to be some jumps in searches since Elon Musk’s takeover, even more so after some of the more controversial changes to the platform were discussed. The increases to the searches surrounding leaving Twitter, as well as looking for alternatives to the sites, were around the ranges you would expect to see. However, the massive bump in searches for Mastodon was far greater than we thought. While it’s important to bear in mind that this search data is relative, and that the jump for Mastodon is so impressive thanks to lacklustre interest pre-Musk, such an increase is still nothing to sniff at and has surely brought immense amounts of the traffic to the platform.

“While we obviously aren’t looking at a mass exodus of people leaving one of the most popular social media sites on the planet, the data clearly shows that people are indeed beginning to both look into leaving it, and they’re also looking for alternatives – this is all just within the first couple of weeks of the takeover. We expect to see more of this pattern as the new “features” are rolled out, as people begin to either become disillusioned with the site, or simply decide it’s not worth the proposed $8 fee.”