Earlier this year, Pew Research that a majority of US Twitter users reported spending less time on the platform since Elon Musk’s takeover last year. Now, new data suggests another important group of users are also pulling back from the service now called X.
More than half of scientific researchers who use Twitter report they’ve reduced the amount of time they spend there or have left altogether, according to of thousands of scientists conducted by Nature. And nearly half of those polled said they’ve turned to alternative social networks like Mastodon
Of the 9,200 researchers polled, more than 47 percent said they had decreased their usage of the site, while nearly 7 percent reported quitting the site altogether. Notably, almost the same number said they had started an account on at least one new platform over the last year.
Of these, Mastodon, which has seen since Musk’s takeover of Twitter was announced, was the most widely used. About 47 percent of researchers said they had started using the open-source platform in the past year. LinkedIn and Instagram were the next most popular, drawing 35 and 27 percent of researchers, respectively. Interestingly, Meta’s Twitter competitor, , took the number four spot even though the app launched only days before Nature conducted the poll.
As with the earlier data from Pew, Nature’s findings suggest that Twitter usage is down among those who were once active on the platform. It also highlights how much the dynamics of Twitter have changed over the last year.
Twitter, as Nature points out, has historically been an important platform for researchers and scientists. It’s been used to publicize research and promote scientific debate. And Twitter’s researchers have served as an important source of information on a platform that's long struggled to combat misinformation. Twitter has also been a valuable source for countless researchers studying everything from public health to linguistics.
But much of that has now changed. Many users now feel that their voices are drowned out on a platform that from those with paid verification. And the company has made its API for researchers that most can no longer access it. So while not all the researchers that spoke to Nature were ready to give up on Twitter entirely, it does seem the company’s tactics have alienated large swaths of the scientific community.
X didn't respond to a request for comment.