Musk surpasses Obama in follower count
Twitter’s owner and chief executive Elon Musk usurped former US president Barack Obama as the most-followed person on the social media platform when he reached approximately 133.08 million followers on Thursday.
Musk’s total narrowly places him in front of Obama, who has around 133.04 million Twitter followers, also as of Thursday. The pair are both comfortably ahead of the third-placed Justin Bieber, with the pop star totalling 113.4 million followers. Other musicians like Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift, as well as soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, are also represented in the top ten.
Musk broke the 100 million barrier for the first time last June, months after he first floated the prospect of purchasing the company in April 2022.
Another former US president, Donald Trump, currently stands in ninth position in the followers list with 87.3 million – some 26 million behind both Musk and Obama. Trump hasn’t posted to Twitter since January 2021, when he was banned from the platform in the days after the January 6th, 2021 riots at the US Capitol in Washington DC.
He was reinstated to Twitter in November following Musk’s takeover of the social media company, though he has yet to post a single tweet, preferring instead to publish his thoughts on his Truth Social platform.
Musk’s rise to becoming Twitter’s most-followed figure comes after his $44 billion acquisition of the company in October. Under his leadership, the platform has introduced a series of changes to the social network in a bid to boost revenue – such as the introduction of paid verification – which have occurred alongside widespread cuts of its global workforce. These redundancies have been mirrored in several other Big Tech companies in recent months.
Twitter announced last week that it is to end its ‘legacy verification program’ on April 1. Under its previous ownership, some prominent accounts – including those of politicians and journalists – were assigned a free blue check mark to distinguish them from fraudulent or satirical accounts, provided that they satisfied certain criteria. From Saturday onwards, users will be required to pay at least $8 per month to keep their verified status.