Following Elon Musk's $44 billion Twitter deal, Republican senators in the US gained almost 160,000 followers while left-leaning accounts last many, according to a report by The Economist.
It studied the pattern by charting the number of followers that America's members of Congress had on Twitter before and after the deal was announced on 25 April.
The average number of followers for all Senate Democrats dropped by around 0.2% between 25-26 April. Accounts linked to Republicans, however, increased by 0.8%. The same was true for the House of Representatives, with Democrats losing and Republicans gaining followers, the study found.
US Vice-President Kamala Harris lost the greatest number of followers, dropping 22,000 in one day. While Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two progressive senators, shed more than 19,000 and 14,000 followers, respectively. On average, Democratic senators lost 2,700 followers each.
A significant drop in Twitter followers across various accounts usually indicates an operation to clean up "bots"—automated accounts controlled by software.
But that the vast majority of Republican senators and representatives actually gained significant numbers of followers suggests that was not the case.
Twitter said the fluctuations appear to be driven by account creations and deactivations, according to NBC News.
Republican senators gained an average of 3,400 each after the announcement. Rand Paul, a Kentucky senator, often described as a conservative-libertarian, added 66,000 followers to his account.
Other prominent Republicans in the Senate and House also experienced significant gains. Jim Jordan, a congressman from Ohio and stalwart supporter of former US president Donald Trump, added 51,000. Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas, saw his following grow by more than 40,000.
If completed, Elon Musk's $44 billion deal will make him the sole owner of Twitter. Some fear his approach to free speech will undo Twitter's attempts to rid its site of misinformation. Leftist users had threatened to quit the platform if Musk took charge.
However, Elon Musk has promised to make the social network a haven for free speech may appeal to a certain brand of libertarian Republicans.