Twitter users increasingly negative about Elon Musk and the company

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
July 27, 2023, 9:41 AM GMT+0

Almost half now say there is too much freedom to post whatever you want on the platform

Yesterday, Elon Musk announced that the platform formerly known as Twitter was rebranding to ‘X’, replacing the iconic blue bird logo. Musk has reportedly long had a fascination with the letter X, with his being one of first business ventures – while the company was later merged with PayPal, he retained the domain name, which now redirects to Twitter.

A new YouGov poll shows that two thirds of Twitter users (67%) have reacted negatively to the new ‘X’ branding, including 41% who feel “very negatively” about the change. These figures are about the same among the platform’s most frequent users.

Just 4% of all users feel positively about the rebranding to ‘X’, while 21% are indifferent.

The British public, as well as Twitter users, take an increasingly negative view of Elon Musk

Since our first poll in April last year – shortly after Musk initiated his acquisition of Twitter – recognition of the tech tycoon has increased significantly. Back then, 63% of Britons had an opinion on Elon Musk; now 79% do.

This has been a case of familiarity breeding contempt, however. While 40% of Britons had an unfavourable view of Musk in April 2022, this figure had increased to 54% in December, and to 61% now.

About one in five Britons (19%) have a favourable opinion of the Twitter owner, about the same as it was in December (18%), but lower than his starting figure of 23% in April.

Musk’s favourability among Twitter users has likewise been declined. Among all users, 27% had a favourable view and 49% an unfavourable one in April 2022. Those figures now stand at 20% and 67% respectively.

Among daily users, Musk’s favourability has dropped from 29% in April last year to 21% now, while the number with a negative view has risen from 50% to 67%.

Twitter’s own reputation has declined since Elon Musk started to acquire the platform

Most Britons (54%) have a negative view of Twitter itself, up from 50% in December and 45% in April 2022. The proportion with a positive view remains the same as last time (21%), although this is down from 26% in our first poll.

Among daily Twitter users, two thirds continue to have a favourable view of the platform (67%, from 72% in spring 2022), but the number with an unfavourable view has increased from 27% to 33%.

Among all users, favourability has fallen from 51% to 40%, while negativity has increased from 35% to 48%.

Twitter users increasingly say there is too much free speech on the platform

When Musk acquired Twitter, he made clear his desire to promote greater freedom of speech on the platform.

Even at the time, however, there was a tendency among Twitter users to believe the platform gave people too much freedom to post offensive and harmful content. One in three users in April 2022 (37%) said so, compared to only 14% taking the opposing view that Twitter did not give people enough freedom to post what they want. A quarter (27%) thought the platform got the balance right.

Following 15 months with Musk at the helm, Twitter users are even more inclined to think the platform gives people too much leeway to post what they want, at 47%. Only 21% now think Twitter gets the balance right, while 13% say freedom of speech is not strong enough on the platform.

Most Twitter users say that Musk’s takeover has been bad for the platform

The public continue to think that Elon Musk buying Twitter has been bad for the social network. More than four in ten say so (44%), up from 38% in December. About the same number say it has been neither good nor bad as last time (18%), while just 4% think Musk’s ownership has been good for Twitter (from 8% in December).

Twitter users are even more convinced the takeover was a bad move: 55% of all users, including 59% of daily users say so. In April 2022, only 30-32% had expected this would be the case.

How has Twitter usage changed in the last year?

Asked how frequently they used Twitter 12 months ago, and today, a quarter of people who say they were using Twitter a year ago say they’re using it less today than they were at the time (25%). They are partly counteracted by the 15% who say they are using it more than before. Most (59%) say that they are using it about the same as they were. Few (4%) say they no longer use the platform at all, again balanced by the 3% of current Twitter users say they joined the platform in the last year.

Eight in ten of those who used Twitter on a daily basis last year (80%) say they continue to do so, with a further 10% continuing to use the platform multiple times per week. Only 2% say they have no longer visit the social network.

See the full results

Photo: Getty

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