Twitter has decided to crack down on fake accounts, decreasing followers for celebrities and brands across the platform. Ironically, Twitter itself suffered one of the biggest hits, with a 12.4% loss of followers – or 7.8 million.
Many prominent celebrities suffered significant drops in followers after the elimination of suspicious accounts. Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, and Rihanna all lost more than a million followers each. Katy Perry lost the most of any celebrities, with 3 million erased, but still has the most Twitter followers with 107 million. Percentage-wise, former swimsuit model Kathy Ireland suffered the most, losing 77 percent of her following.
Twitter spokesperson Vijaya Gadde stated:
Follower counts are a visible feature, and we want everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate.
Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop.
The purge is part of Twitter’s response to the discovery of “Follower Factories” – companies that create and sell fake followers to politicians, actors, models, authors, and anyone else who wants to look more popular on social media. Twitter believes that once all fake accounts are eliminated, the total follower account on the platform will have been reduced by six percent.
The criteria used for elimination is if an account experiences sudden changes in behavior, such as “a large volume of unsolicited replies or mentions, tweeting misleading links, or if a large number of accounts block the account after mentioning them.” Twitter then contacts the owner to confirm if they have control of the account, and if there is no response, the account is removed from global follower counts.
Even if it won’t stop the site from being a perpetual dumpster fire, the purge is a move in the right direction for Twitter. Brands may initially suffer decreases in followers, but it will actually enable businesses to get a better idea of how many real people they are reaching with their social messages.