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Elon Musk's X attracts more right-leaning users since Twitter takeover, new research finds

Elon Musk arrives at the tenth Breakthrough Prize Ceremony on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.
Elon Musk arrives at the tenth Breakthrough Prize Ceremony on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Copyright Jordan Strauss/2024 Invision
Copyright Jordan Strauss/2024 Invision
By Pascale Davies
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As the US presidential election nears in November, a study found that Republicans felt increasingly more welcome on the platform than Democrats.

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Elon Musk's social media platform X, formerly called Twitter, has become more popular with right-leaning users in the two years since he bought the company, newly published research has found.

The Pew Research Center study, which looked at some 10,200 social media users in the United States, found that the percentage of Republicans that said X is "mostly good" for democracy increased to 53 per cent this year, a figure that has tripled since 2021.

Meanwhile, just 26 per cent of Democrat users said X was good for democracy this year, compared to 47 per cent in 2021.

Musk has said his aims was to make X a platform for free speech, having previously expressed disdain at what he called "far, far left San Francisco views" that dominated then Twitter. 

When he took over the platform he reversed a Twitter ban on former president Donald Trump and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. 

As a result, the study found that just a third of Democrats surveyed said their views were welcomed on X. 

In contrast, more than half of Republicans surveyed said they "feel welcome" on the site.

The study also looked at Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, but said these social media sites were not primarily used to consume news but for other reasons like connecting with family and friends and entertainment.

It found that X was the exception to the pattern with 65 per cent using the platform to get their news, and as many as half of surveyed X users regularly getting news on the site. 

Left-leaning users more likely to see inaccuracies

However, on all four sites, more people see users expressing opinions or funny posts about current events rather than news articles or breaking news.

Yet, 79 per cent of X users also saw news articles (linked, posted, or reposted) and more X users are more likely to see breaking news on the site compared to the other social media platforms. 

Democratic-leaning X users were also more likely than conservatives to say they saw inaccurate news on the site with some 66 per cent of X users saying they think the platform influences which news stories they see.

News consumers on X (37 per cent) followed by Facebook (33 per cent) were the most likely to say they often see news that seems inaccurate.

The study comes just five months before the 2024 US presidential election in November as concern rises about the accuracy of information on social media. 

Almost 75 per cent of those X users surveyed said they come across political content as they scroll through the site, the study found.

As well as ramping up criticism of Democratic US president Joe Biden on the platform, Musk has come under fire for his public support on X for German far-right Alternative for Germany (AFD), recently posting this week that he didn’t understand why its policies were being branded "extremist".

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