There have been recent reports that younger people are now leaving – or at least threatening to leave – Twitter following Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media platform last month. It isn’t just in the United States however. A survey from Fair Betting Sites also found that 41% of millennials in the UK would stop using the platform altogether.
Musk is just one factor that could be leading to a Twitter exodus of young people in the U.S., UK, and other parts of Europe and the Far East.
In fact, since early 2016, the social media service has seen a steady decline of those in Generation Z as well as Millennials. According to a study from YPulse conducted earlier this year, apart from an uptick in March 2018, Twitter’s decline among younger users is part of an ongoing trend. It found that in March 2016, 51% of Millennials and 42% of Gen Z respondents said they used the platform – while that number has fallen to 32% and 28% respectively.
The Twitter Exodus
The fact that so many younger users are now threatening to leave should still be taken seriously. Even as there has been a steady decline over the past several years, Musk’s policies aren’t likely to reverse it.
“This survey doesn’t surprise and should be of concern to Twitter and its investors,” said technology analyst and social media trend watcher Susan Schreiner of C4 Trends.
“Within the past few weeks with the results of the U.S. elections, Gen Z and Millennials have proven that they follow through on their convictions and what they perceive as important,” Schreiner explained. “Against this backdrop, a new ethos seems to be emerging.”
Millennials and Gen Zers seem to be signaling that they are ready for a social media mid-course correction, and if Twitter under Musk will not provide a safer platform with guardrails, they will defect to other platforms.
“Survey data seems to indicate that given their anti-authoritarian tendencies, Musk is a turn-off based on his tweets and business decisions,” Schreiner continued.
Musk’s Vision For Twitter
Though Musk has touted himself to be a free speech absolutist, many of Twitter’s users are at odds by what is increasingly allowed on the platform.
This is why Millennials and Gen Z aren’t having it.
“They grew up in times of a new reality when the Internet shifted from its early noble intentions of being an innocent town square to the unintended consequences of it becoming a source for spreading toxic misinformation and hatred. Twitter and the like also became a town square for bullying and other malicious behavior,” Schreiner suggested. “The evidence is mounting that Millennials and Gen Zers indicate they’ve had enough, and since they are now of age – they are ready to be the catalyst for change for good even if it means abandoning Twitter.”
Yet, it is also unlikely that these mass defections could be enough to change how Twitter operates under Musk.
“If he didn’t heed the concerns of major advertisers who put their campaigns on hold along with revenue streams for Twitter as we head into the holiday season, why would Musk move to appease Millennials and GenZers,” pondered Schreiner.
She further explained that the role of social media and Twitter came up at a recent health tech event, HLTH in Las Vegas. Thought leaders speculated that it’s likely that a Twitter alternative will likely emerge quicker than one would expect. The feeling was that it could be simpler to use than Mastadon, safer than TikTok, and more substantive than Instagram.
“The market is ready for an alternative,” said Schreiner. “Musk’s recent moves will only hasten defections and be a catalyst for competitive innovation in the social media space.”