Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey was not spared as he lost 200,000 followers on his social network after a purge of “locked” followers that also affected a lot of other major influencers.
This week we’ll be removing locked Twitter accounts (locked when we detect suspicious changes in behavior) from follower counts across profiles globally. The number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down. #health https://t.co/JGmE4ofoZ2
— jack (@jack) July 11, 2018
In an effort to identify fake followers and bots, Twitter has been deleting locked accounts—profiles that the social network locks if they exhibit suspicious behaviour like tweeting a large number of unsolicited replies or mentioning users en masse.
What are locked accounts?
When we see sudden changes in behavior, we lock accounts. We reach out to the owners of the accounts and unless they validate the account and reset their passwords, we keep them locked with no ability to log in.
— Twitter (@Twitter) July 11, 2018
Many Celebrities, politicians and social media influencers found their following knocked down by a few digits on Thursday following the purge. Oprah Winfrey, who sent her inaugural tweet in 2009, had her following cut by about 1.4 million between Wednesday and Thursday evening. US president Donald Trump lost about 340,000 followers while his predecessor, Barack Obama took a much bigger hit, losing about 3 million followers in about one day.
A statement on Twitter’s official blog reads that the effort is aimed at boosting accuracy on the platform. “As part of our ongoing and global effort to build trust and encourage healthy conversation on Twitter, every part of the service matters. Follower counts are a visible feature, and we want everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate”, it explained. Aly Pavela, a Twitter spokeswoman, said the work of locking and eliminating suspicious accounts from users’ followers would continue over the coming days.
In the last few years, many users have inflated their followings with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavours or entertainment careers. An investigation by The New York Times in January revealed that just one small Florida company sold fake followers and other social media engagement to hundreds of thousands of users around the world, including politicians, models, actors and authors.
Twitter executives in an interview earlier this week explained that the investigation by The Times pushed them to look more closely at steps to clamp down on the market for fakes, which is fueled in part by the growing political and commercial value of a widely followed account and has seemingly devalued the influence accumulated by legitimate users—sowing suspicion around those who quickly attained a broad following.
“We don’t want to incentivize the purchase of followers and fake accounts to artificially inflate follower counts, because it’s not an accurate measure of someone’s influence on the platform or influence in the world…We think it’s a really important and meaningful metric, and we want people to have confidence that these are engaged users that are following other accounts”- Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president for trust and safety
However, the average twitter account shouldn’t see a big change and should expect to lose around four or fewer followers. Meanwhile, the company announced that although significant changes may happen in the next few days, follower counts may continue to change more regularly as part of our ongoing work to pro-actively identify and challenge problematic accounts.
Twitter clout has grown to become a credibility asset and more and more people are beginning to grow more influence on the social network, hence, a purge can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. However, we would be on the look out to monitor the next phase of the processes.
Did you experience the great purge or what do you feel about the process?