SAN FRANCISCO — President Trump has more than six times as many followers on Twitter as he did when he was elected to office in 2016.
Trump has tweeted more than 52,000 times total and tweeted or retweeted more than 50 times on Tuesday and Wednesday. Each received thousands of comments, likes and retweets.
Trump’s massive following and accelerated growth on Twitter, his preferred social media site for posting his thoughts, fly in the face of his claims on Wednesday that social media platforms are trying to “silence conservative voices."
“If Twitter is trying to silence President Trump, they are doing a very bad job at it,” said social media researcher and Clemson University professor Darren Linvill.
Trump made the claims after Twitter added a fact-check label to two of his tweets about mail-in ballots on Tuesday, pointing viewers to news articles that debunked Trump’s false claims that the ballots are fraudulent.
It was the first time the company has added such a label to a tweet of Trump’s, though many experts have been calling for such labels for years as social media companies become cemented as key megaphones and advertising platforms for politicians and leaders. Twitter banned all political ads on its site last year.
Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2020
The fact-check labels are especially important when it comes to influential accounts that reach a lot of people, said Samuel Woolley, a professor and director of a propaganda research team at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Messages that are misleading that come from public figures can be particularly damaging both offline and online,” he said.
Trump has accused Twitter in the past of removing followers from his account.
Many accounts do lose some followers over time, most notably in 2018 when Twitter cracked down on fake accounts and suspended more than 70 million accounts in a two-month period.
Later that year during a Twitter fake-account purge, Trump lost about 100,000 of his then 53.4 million followers. Former president Barack Obama also lost about 400,000 followers.
Obama has the most followed Twitter account on the site with 117.98 million followers. He gained nearly 1.4 million in the last month.
Even with the crackdowns, Trump’s Twitter account has seen massive growth since it was created in 2009. The president had 2.98 million followers when he announced his candidacy for president in 2015, a number that shot up to about 13 million when he won the presidential election. One week later, that number was above 15 million.
Trump’s account gained a daily average of 55,515 followers in the past month, according to Social Blade.