Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s legal, policy, trust and safety head, announced in a blog post that the social media app would remove tens of millions of suspicious and fake accounts from its platform’s follower counts in an effort to clean up the site, reports the Fourways Review.
Locked accounts would be the first to go, as these suspicious accounts are put on a temporary lock until owners validate them and change their passwords.
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Gadde explained their decision, saying: “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.”
“Over the years, we’ve locked accounts when we detected sudden changes in account behaviour. In these situations, 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. This week, we’ll be removing these locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally. As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down.”
The initial cleanup, still in progress, has seen the number of followers of well-known celebrities and public figures dwindle. The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin reported that President Donald Trump’s follower count had already fallen by 100 000, and Barack Obama’s was down 400 000.
— Elizabeth Dwoskin (@lizzadwoskin) July 11, 2018
If you’re an average user with fewer followers, Twitter says you will only lose four followers at most due to the purge.
“Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop. We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation,” said Gadde.
There have been many instances in the past few years of people using bot accounts to promote certain campaigns, and this has made Twitter lose its credibility over the years.