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Twitter purge decimates GOP senators after Capitol riot, but Democrats gain

The Twitter purge after the Capitol riots left 75 percent of Senate Republicans with fewer followers, with several losing tens of thousands, a review by The Post shows.

Many of the Senate’s most powerful Democrats, meanwhile, gained tens of thousands of followers since Jan. 6, data from the tracking website Social Blade reveals.

On the Democratic side, many of the big winners were the stars of the 2020 presidential primary: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar was up more than 70,000 followers for the month; Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren was up more than 80,000; Bernie Sanders took in more than 350,000, while Vice President-elect Kamala Harris led the way with a 1.3 million gain.

Twitter has lately also been sparring with President-elect Joe Biden over its refusal to transfer over the more than 33 million followers of the official @POTUS account to Biden when he takes office. The company did move 13 million @POTUS followers from Obama to Trump in 2017. Biden was forced to start from zero with @PresElectBiden which will revert to the new @POTUS account on Jan. 20. The account has about 850,000 followers.

A review of all 100 Senate accounts showed that only two Democrats, California’s Dianne Feinstein and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, lost followers over the past 30 days.

Among Republicans, some of the biggest losers were Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was off 45,000; Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, down more than 50,000; Florida’s Marco Rubio, who was down 78,000; and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who led the losers with a decline of more than 112,000 followers.

Though an unknown number of right-leaning accounts likely bolted in the aftermath of President Trump’s permanent suspension from the platform, Twitter confirmed it was taking aggressive measures to remove undesirable accounts.

On Monday the company revealed they had iced more than 70,000 accounts for sharing content associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory. Many devotees of the idea played an active role in the deadly Capitol riot.

Twitter’s defenders among Democrats and Republicans have long insisted that as a private company it has the right to decide who can and cannot have accounts on the platform, but others disagree.

“We’re living through a really dangerous period right now in which free speech is under concerted attack across the board,” NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller told The Post. “Since January 6th, it has primarily affected people on the right.”

Miller, who is currently suing his colleagues after he says they libeled him for raising questions about wearing face masks, said QAnon was largely a “pretext for censorship.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders gained more than 350,000 Twitter followers for the month.
Sen. Bernie Sanders gained more than 350,000 Twitter followers for the month.
Ida Mae Astute/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

“What we’re witnessing is the transformation of the western internet by corporations and the state into a forum much more like China’s internet,” Miller said. “In China it’s just a given when you’re online you’re under surveillance and can be punished for dissident expression.”

Twitter declined to comment.

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