Stephen Fry becomes latest celebrity to quit Twitter

Stephen Fry has deleted his Twitter account as the celebrity exodus from the social network continues under the ownership of Elon Musk.

The actor and presenter posted a picture of Scrabble letters spelling out “Goodbye” to his 12.5 million followers before leaving the site.

Fry has left Twitter several times. In 2016 he left saying “the fun is over” after a backlash over his comments about a costume designer. He said then the site had become a “stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous”.

On Monday Whoopi Goldberg left the network, telling viewers of her US television show The View: “It’s been a little over a week since Elon Musk took over Twitter and this place is a mess. I’m getting off today . . . I’m tired of now having certain kinds of attitudes blocked now getting back on.” Goldberg cited Musk’s mass cull of Twitter staff as well as his decision to ban the comedian Kathy Griffin.

Fry has joined Mastodon, an alternative social network, which has seen a surge in users since Musk’s takeover. In his first message, or “toot” on Mastodon, he said: “I wonder if this service [is] named after the great confession of Bertie Wooster’s: ‘As a rule, you see, I’m not lugged into Family Rows. On the occasions when Aunt is calling Aunt like mastodons bellowing across primeval swamps . . . the clan has a tendency to ignore me.’ ” A spokesman said: “Stephen Fry thought the time was right to move on.”

Fry and Goldberg join a string of stars who have ditched their accounts in the past week. The model Gigi Hadid (ten million followers), the producer Shonda Rhimes (two million) and the singer Sara Bareilles (three million) have all left. Musk has seemed unfazed, banning Griffin and another comic, Sarah Silverman, after they impersonated him and protested against his plan to charge people $8 a month for a verification mark on accounts. He also goaded users to leave and join Mastodon.

His bullishness appears to be driven by Twitter user numbers, which he claims are at a record high. He tweeted a graph as evidence of the data but its origin is unclear.

Musk, 51, is facing a backlash that has led to him declaring “a massive drop in revenue” after advertisers paused spending because of uncertainty around content moderation and policy. With an extra $1.2 billion of interest payments to make in the next 12 months on debt used to buy Twitter, the Tesla chief is seeking new sources of revenue and cost-cutting.

However, leaks to the Platformer website suggest the $8 verification could cost the company money. Those signing up to the scheme have been promised fewer adverts but internal estimates suggest that would mean a monthly drop of $6 in advertising revenue per US user.

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