Elon Musk, the prominent figure behind X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has garnered an impressive following since his acquisition of the platform in October of the previous year. At present, his account, @ElonMusk, boasts over 153 million followers, effectively making it a microcosm of the platform itself.
But who exactly are these followers of Musk on X? How active are they? Do they contribute to the platform’s content, or are they passive observers? Do they subscribe to Musk’s subscription plan, X Premium (formerly Twitter Blue)? And perhaps the most pressing question – are Musk’s followers genuine?
Mashable has delved into this matter by examining new data compiled by third-party researcher Travis Brown. Brown meticulously gathered basic account information for all of Musk’s 153 million plus followers, respecting X’s rate limit parameters in the process.
The results are somewhat concerning.
Who Comprises Elon Musk’s X Following?
The primary concern for many is whether Musk’s followers are legitimate or fake. However, the term “inactive” appears to be a more accurate description based on the data. Surprisingly, a significant portion of Musk’s followers seem disengaged with the platform.
Out of the 153,209,283 X accounts following Musk at the time of data collection, approximately 42 percent (over 65.3 million users) have zero followers on their own accounts. Additionally, more than 72 percent (almost 112 million) of these users following Musk have fewer than 10 followers on their accounts.
Regarding content creation on the platform, over 62.5 million of Musk’s followers have posted zero tweets, encompassing users who either deleted all their tweets or had never tweeted before. Furthermore, over 100 million of Musk’s followers have less than 10 tweets on their accounts.
Another intriguing detail from Musk’s follower data is the timing of when these accounts were created. Musk finalized his acquisition of Twitter on October 27, 2022. Out of all his current followers, more than 25 percent (38.9 million) were created on or after that date.
While the average number of followers for all 153 million accounts following Musk hovers around 187, Brown suggests that the distribution skews so significantly that these averages may not hold much significance. The median number of followers for these accounts is just one.
Are Musk’s Followers Fake?
All the data points mentioned above might indicate fake or inactive accounts, or potentially users who primarily consume content. It’s likely a combination of all three categories. However, some statistics lean more towards the first two types of users.
Over the years, real X users have identified certain traits that often indicate fake or bot accounts. For example, if an account employs the default avatar or the auto-generated username containing a string of numbers, it’s likely not a real, active user.
Approximately 25 percent of Musk’s followers (over 38 million) use the default profile image provided by X for new accounts. Moreover, just under 50 million of Musk’s followers have handles on X with four or more numbers.
Additionally, more than 43.8 million Musk followers follow fewer than 10 users on X in total. Around 13.5 million users only followed one account, @ElonMusk, at the time of data collection.
X Premium (Twitter Blue) Insights
One final noteworthy data point is the number of Musk’s followers who subscribe to X Premium, Musk’s $8 per month paid subscription service (formerly Twitter Blue). Musk has consistently promoted this product, emphasizing its premium features like the verification badge and monetization eligibility. Subscribing to X Premium has often been seen as a show of personal support for Musk by the platform’s users.
However, according to the latest data from @ElonMusk followers, only about 453,000 (0.3 percent) subscribe to X Premium. A prior report by Mashable suggested there were approximately 830,000 X Premium subscribers in total based on another dataset by Brown.
Brown’s methodology for collecting X Premium data adhered to X’s constraints, such as the site’s API, and respected the platform’s rate limits. Nevertheless, these limitations led to a delay, and his data does not encompass the most recent batch of over 200,000 accounts that followed Musk. Additionally, just under 6,000 of Musk’s followers had been suspended by the platform at the time of publication.
Musk recently asserted that X has more than 540 million “monthly users.” If this figure is accurate, it implies that over 25 percent of the platform’s accounts follow Musk. However, if these numbers are inflated, it raises questions about the overall activity of X’s user base, particularly considering a substantial portion of Musk’s 153 million followers may not be active on the platform or could potentially be fake accounts.