In the 24 hours after Elon Musk revived a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, the official accounts of some top Republican lawmakers lost thousands of followers, sparking an outcry that the social media platform was purging conservatives.
From Tuesday to Wednesday, Rep. Jim Jordan's account lost 11,800 followers and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene lost nearly 11,000.
Of the 538 official accounts of lawmakers USA TODAY analyzed, 32 lost at least 1,000 followers. All belonged to Republican lawmakers.
Changes in congressional follower counts mirrored a broader trend on the platform during the same time period anecdotally reported by Twitter users, showing follower losses on the political right.
"Twitter is really bad at suppressing conservatives," tweeted Sen. Ted Cruz.
"For months, my account gained about 1K followers a day. THE DAY AFTER @elonmusk offer accepted, it rose to 50k-70k PER DAY. When the deal froze, it fell to 500 per day. Yesterday? 12,500 followers disappeared."
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The data do not indicate whether number of followers decreased because some accounts stopped following the lawmakers or if it was because accounts were deactivated.
USA TODAY contacted Twitter with questions about the changes.
The scale of losses for key Republicans stands out when compared with the same data a week ago.
During the same period a week ago, Sept. 26 to Sept. 27, Cruz's account gained 491 followers, Taylor Greene's gained 843 and Jordan's gained 726. Rep. Dan Crenshaw's account lost the most followers of all official accounts at -66.
The overnight losses are the inverse of what happened when Musk and Twitter initially announced a deal in April, though on a smaller scale.
In the 24 hours after that news broke, the official accounts of Jordan, Taylor Greene and Cruz each gained more than 50,000 followers. On average, the official accounts of Republican lawmakers added 1,400 followers from April 24 to April 25.
Twitter told USA TODAY at the time that the fluctuations in follower counts were caused by new accounts being created and existing accounts being deactivated, showing a sharp shift in sentiment and an ideological divide over Musk buying Twitter.
Conservatives for years have accused Twitter and the other major social media platforms of censoring their viewpoints. They publicly celebrated the prospect of Musk taking over Twitter takeover and relaxing content moderation.
Their hopes were dashed when Musk tried to wriggle out of the deal. Twitter sued to force Musk to proceed with his offer to buy the company for $54.20 a share.
After months of legal wrangling, Musk offered to buy the company for the original bid of $44 billion on Monday night, but the deal has not yet gone through.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Musk Twitter bid: GOP lawmakers lost followers after Musk revived deal