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Elon Musk and Twitter Revisited

Elon Musk and Twitter Revisited

The Elon Musk and Twitter acquisition continues to make waves in the news, with Musk finalizing the $44 billion deal last Thursday. In the week since, he’s been quick to usher in new changes, cut top executives and enact mass layoffs. We polled Americans on how favorably they view Elon Musk and whether they plan to leave, or join, Twitter following his takeover offer.

Musk favorability drops in months following Twitter bid

Elon Musk, the world's richest man and new owner of Twitter, has a +4 favorability rating (36% favorable, 32% unfavorable, 29% don’t know enough to say), a drop from the +16 (41% favorable, 25% unfavorable, 31% don’t know) seen in a late April SurveyMonkey poll fielded just before Twitter accepted Musk’s bid.

What’s next for Twitter

The future is cloudy: 48% say the company is headed in the wrong direction while a near equal number 45% say it’s headed in the right direction, down slightly from April (53% said Twitter was headed in the right direction vs. 44% in the wrong direction). Four in 10 (38%) Americans think Twitter will be about as popular as it is now in five years while 37% say it’ll be less popular. Just 20% say Twitter will be more popular in the next five years. 

But Twitter users are still optimistic: more than half of users (53%) say Twitter is headed in the right direction. More than 4 in 10 (46%) Twitter users say Musk will have a positive effect on the company’s direction, outpacing the 34% who predict Musk will have a negative effect, roughly unchanged from April (43% of Twitter users said Musk would have a positive effect vs. 33% who said Musk would have a negative effect).

  • Republicans remain keen on Musk: 72% say he’ll have a positive effect on the company’s direction while just 18% of Democrats say the same, both roughly unchanged from April. 

Just 19% of current Twitter users say they’re likely to delete their account in the next 30 days, a drop from May when 28% said they were likely to quit using Twitter following the news of Elon Musk purchasing the company. However, 16% say they plan to join the platform now that Musk is in charge. 

  • Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to quit using the platform with Musk in charge (29% vs. 11%), unchanged from May

Though Twitter's future may be unclear, potential competitors remain unknown: just 5% of adults say they’ve heard of Tribel, a new social media platform that some Twitter users have already migrated to. Yet, even fewer (4%) are familiar with Mastodon, another alternative to Twitter. Still, just 27% of adults overall say they use Twitter, paling in comparison to those who use more popular social media apps like Facebook (67%) and Instagram (46%).

Free speech – largely a partisan issue

The majority of Americans (65%) say social media does more to hurt than help democracy and free speech, roughly unchanged from April (66%), but up noticeably from previous years. 

Yet Americans are split on how free speech should operate online: 47% say people should be able to speak their minds freely online while 50% people should be able to feel welcome and safe online, both roughly unchanged from April. 

  • Party lines are the clear divider: 69% of Republicans emphasize speaking freely online while a near equal number of Democrats (70%) say people should feel welcome and safe online. 

More than half of Democrats (58%) say it bothers them “a lot” when they hear or read speech that is considered politically incorrect for stereotyping people due to their background, far higher than the number of Republicans (29%) and independents (33%) who say the same. 

  • Overall, just 41% of Americans say it bothers them “a lot”, while 31% say it bothers them “a little” and 27% say it doesn’t bother them at all. 

Six in 10 say the right to free speech is the best guarantee that the views of disadvantaged groups can be heard – a view that a vast majority of Republicans (70%) rather than Democrats (54%) agree with. Democrats are weary of who benefits from free speech: 45% say the right to free speech usually winds up favoring the views of privileged and powerful members of society, a statement that only 29% of Republicans and 37% of adults overall agree with.  

Republicans feel free speech is stifled: 80% of Republicans say the climate in the country these days prevents a lot of people from saying things they believe because they may be criticized for offending someone. Just 51% of Democrats, 56% of independents and 63% of Americans overall say the same. 

Twitter’s decision to permanently ban Donald Trump from the platform remains a partisan issue: 81% of Democrats supported this decision while a near-equal number of Republicans (84%) opposed it. Overall, it’s 47% support; 49% oppose, roughly unchanged from April (47% supported; 50% opposed). 

Read more about our polling methodology here

Click through all the results in the interactive toplines below: