Despite Twitter’s recent crackdown of fake user accounts and the millions of followers that were lost as a result, popstar Katy Perry remains the most followed person on the network.
In a blog posted on Wednesday, Twitter’s legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, Vijaya Gadde, said Twitter planned to wipe fake accounts from users’ follower counts in an effort to “build trust” and foster a healthy environment for conversation. “We want everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate,” she said. “We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.”
While the removals started on Thursday and were expected to last only a few days, Gadde said users’ follower counts may continue to fluctuate.
Here are three big things to know about Twitter’s account-removal efforts.
1. Locked accounts are being removed from your followers over the next few days.
Twitter has been “locking” accounts for years based on what they call “sudden changes in account behavior.” According to Gadde, these changes include posting a ton of “unsolicited” replies, mentions, and misleading links or information, or if an account is blocked by a large number of other accounts after it mentions them. Gadde said Twitter will also lock an account if they believe its security has been compromised.
In a situation where an account is locked, Twitter contacts the owner and, if everything checks out, can unlock it. Going forward, the accounts that have not been unlocked due to unsuccessful communication are the ones which will be deleted from follower accounts. A locked account differs from a spam account or a “bot” because it was, most likely, created by a real person at one time. If it has been locked, it is because Twitter can no longer identify if it is still being controlled by the original owner.
2. The change won’t impact Twitter’s user metrics.
According to Gadde, removing locked accounts will not affect the network’s Monthly Active User (MAU) or Daily Active User (DAU) measurements. She said accounts that have been locked and “have not reset their password in more than a month” do not count towards Twitter’s MAU and DAU to begin with. While this change won’t have an impact on Twitter’s numbers, Gadde did say that upcoming eliminations of accounts as part of the “ongoing commitment to a healthy public conversation” could impact future metrics.
3. Unless you have millions of followers, the impact shouldn’t be detrimental.
According to Gadde, “most people will see a change of four followers of fewer.” However, accounts with a larger following—like a celebrity, politician, or social media influencer—will see a “more significant drop.”
And did they ever.
According to an article posted Thursday by the New York Times, many celebrities with a strong following lost “tens of millions” of followers on Thursday alone. Perry, who had close to 110 million before the change, dropped about three million followers. As of Friday, her count hovered around 107 million people. Barack Obama, who once had close to 104 million followers, decreased to 101 million. President Donald Trump also lost followers—he went from 53.4 million on Wednesday to about 53 million on Thursday. And @Twitter, the network’s main account, was not left unscathed, losing “about 12 percent of its total followers”—about 7.7 million followers.
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