Following the Twitter board's acceptance of Elon Musk's $44 billion deal in April 2022, neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and accelerationist Twitter users from dozens of countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Oceania have proliferated on the platform. Their rate of expansion has further increased following the completion of the takeover in late October of the same year.
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Extremists from around the world have flocked to Twitter and use the platform to expand their messaging and recruitment. Content from extremist accounts on Twitter varies considerably, from the mundane to overt racism and antisemitism and calls for the acceleration of system collapse. Furthermore, many extremists on Twitter attempt to expand their reach by participating in conversations on topics that are en vogue on Twitter, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, midterm elections, and events covered in local news.
An accelerationist account posts a meme comparing a 2022 midterm elections poll worker in Maricopa County, Arizona to the antisemitic "Happy Merchant" meme. The meme reflects the user's belief that Jews control the U.S. government and elections.
Twitter extremists include well-known neo-Nazi and white supremacist individuals with thousands of followers, such as the founder of the neo-Nazi forum Daily Stormer Andrew Anglin (12,600 followers), 2017 Unite the Right rally organizer Richard Spencer (73,500 followers), and neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologues Kevin MacDonald (39,200 followers) and Dr. Ricardo Duchesne (4,386 followers).
Profile pictures of prominent extremists on Twitter. From top-left, clockwise: Andrew Anglin, Richard Spencer, Kevin MacDonald, and Ricardo Duchesne.
Notably, since Musk's takeover of Twitter, the four aforementioned individuals have experienced significant follower growth, mirroring the broader trend of extremist growth online. Duchesne, for instance, had less than 1,000 followers as recently as August 2022, representing 300% follower growth in four months. MacDonald, similarly, experienced about a 20% increase in followers since Musk's offer was first accepted in April 2022. Anglin has attracted more than 12,000 users in just over a month since the controversial reinstatement of his Twitter account on December 1, 2022.
The number of Dr. Ricardo Duchesne's followers increased from 972 in August 2022, to nearly 4,500 by January 2023. Likewise, Anglin's followers increased from about 3,200 in early December 2022 to over 12,500 by January 2023.
Anglin's suspension is not exceptional, however, as more than 11,000 suspended accounts were reinstated in the month following the completion of Musk's purchase. Prominent among the recently reinstated accounts is prominent QAnon conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins, who has over 385,000 followers.
Prominent extremist groups have also expanded their presence on Twitter following its purchase by Musk. Groups such as the neo-Nazi Scandinavian Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) have developed greater presence on Twitter, with several of NRM's local "nests" on Twitter in addition to dozens of accounts of members and supporters, including those of prominent leaders active on Twitter. Likewise, the Australian neo-Nazi National Socialist Network (NSN) regularly posts about its activism on Twitter, while global movements such as the white supremacist Identitarian Movement and White Lives Matter (WLM) movements have chapters with an active Twitter presence.
Image showing some extremist groups' Twitter accounts.
The full report covers the proliferation of extremist Twitter accounts and content following Musk's takeover. This report is not a comprehensive list of extremist accounts but it provides an overview of the type of accounts and content accessible on Twitter.
 Cnn.com/2022/04/25/tech/elon-musk-twitter-sale-agreement/index.html, April 25, 2022.