Since launching in 2006, Twitter has buzzed with the news of the day, so it’s no surprise that the social media company itself has been a big topic as of late.
This follows Elon Musk completing of his $44 billion purchase of the company in the final days of October, which was accompanied by changes in leadership and policies. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX made an offer to buy Twitter in April, saying that he wanted to promote free speech and end Twitter’s permanent ban on some users.
Once he had taken over, Musk laid off thousands, attempted to implement a subscription system and announced plans to create a “content moderation council” on the social network. He also ran a poll asking if former President Donald Trump should be allowed to return — he’d been banned for inciting violence in the Jan. 6 attack on the capitol — and eventually reinstated him.
Musk noted early on in his tenure that rapper Kanye West’s account had been “restored by Twitter before the acquisition” and without his knowledge. West, also known as Ye, reportedly had been locked out in October after he made antisemitic comments, which the site blocked after they had been seen. West was back to tweeting by Nov. 2, although he was suspended again in early December after he posted an anti-Semitic message found to incite violence.
Following Musk’s takeover, dozens more employees left the company in the wake of his demands for them to work harder with a smaller staff. As #RIPTwitter began trending, some familiar faces — or at least familiar names — declared their intention to leave or take a break from the platform.
Elton John announced his departure Dec. 9.
“All my life I’ve tried to use music to bring people together,” the singer and activist wrote. “Yet it saddens me to see how misinformation is now being used to divide our world. I’ve decided to no longer use Twitter, given their recent change in policy which will allow misinformation to flourish unchecked.”
Rapper Meek Mill joined John in signing off, because there were “too many bots and weird people.” He reportedly announced Dec. 18 that he would deactivate his account and instead post to YouTube and hope for a new social media app where there are “more good vibes.”
Actress Jameela Jamil predicted in April that she would depart, because Twitter would become “a lawaless space of bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia,” and she actually did stop sending posts in October.
On Nov. 29, actor Jim Carrey said goodbye with a cartoon based on his painting of “a crazy old Lighthouse Keeper, standing naked in a storm, summoning the angels and shining his lamp to guide us through a treacherous night.”
Nine Inch Nails frontman-turned-Oscar-winning composer Trent Reznor said in a Nov. 19 interview with the Hollywood Reporter that he was leaving.
“I’m about to depart. We don’t need the arrogance of the billionaire class to feel like they can just come in and solve everything. Even without him involved, I just find that it has become such a toxic environment,” he said. “For my mental health, I need to tune out. I don’t feel good being there anymore.”
Musk tweeted that Reznor was a “crybaby,” but he actually did leave.
Rocker Jack White was out after Trump was back in. “Absolutely disgusting, Elon,” he tweeted.
The account that belonged to Musk’s ex Amber Heard, @RealAmberHeard, disappeared altogether.
Another actress, Whoopi Goldberg, said Nov. 7 on The View that she was logging off. And she did.
“I’m getting off today because I just feel like it’s so messy, and I’m tired of now having certain kinds of attitudes blocked now getting back on,” Goldberg said. “So I’m gonna get out, and if it settles down enough and I feel more comfortable, maybe I’ll come back. But as of tonight, I’m done with Twitter.”
Gigi Hadid took to her Instagram Stories to explain that she had deactivated her Twitter account. “Especially with its new leadership, it’s becoming more and more of a cesspool of hate & bigotry,” she wrote, according to CBS. She said she’s connected with many fans on the site and wants to be part of it, however, “I can’t say it’s a safe place for anyone, nor a social platform that will do more good than harm.”
Earlier, musicians Toni Braxton and Sara Bareilles, as well as producer Shonda Rhimes, had said they were out of there.
Braxton noted that she was “shocked and appalled” at the “free speech” she was seeing after Musk’s arrival.
“Hate speech under the veil of ‘free speech’ is unacceptable; therefore I am choosing to stay off Twitter as it is no longer a safe space for myself, my sons and other POC,” she tweeted.
Singer Liz Phair deactivated her account Nov. 11.
Those celebs weren’t the only ones.
Actress Téa Leoni appeared to have deleted her account. According to NBC News, she last tweeted Oct. 29: “Hi everyone. I’m coming off Twitter today — let’s see where we are when the dust settles. Today the dust has revealed too much hate, too much in the wrong direction. Love, kindness, and possibilities for all of you.”
Bill & Ted star Alex Winter, This Is Us executive producer Ken Olin and Billions showrunner Brian Koppelman also made it clear that they’re leaving the Twitterverse.
Winter’s bio was changed to, “Not here for now,” and his posts were deleted. Per The Hollywood Reporter, at one time, he posted only a meme of Musk, Trump and Ye (aka Kanye West) as the Three Musketeers.
Olin announced, “I’m out of here” on Oct. 28, noting, “Let’s protect our democracy.”
As for Koppelman, he tweeted, according to THR, “Y’all’s, for real, come find me over on instagram and the tok. Gonna really try to take a breather from here for a minute or a month come deal close time.”
Disney star Josh Gad explained that he wasn’t sure if he would stay or not.
“Leaning towards staying,” the Frozen star posted, “but if today is a sign of things to come, not sure what the point is. Freedom of speech is great. Hate speech intended to cite harm, (with no consequences) ain’t what I signed up for.”
He retweeted a press release announcing that 40 civil-society groups were demanding that Twitter’s top advertisers stop supporting the site “if Elon Musk continues to undermine brand and user safety.”