Follower counts start dipping as Twitter removes locked accounts

US President Donald Trump lost about 1,00,000 of his 53.4 million followers while former president Barack Obama lost about 4,00,000 followers within a few hours.

Published: 12th July 2018 10:26 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2018 10:27 PM   |  A+A-

People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture. (File Photo | Reuters)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: US President Donald Trump lost about 1,00,000 of his 53.4 million followers while former president Barack Obama lost about 4,00,000 followers within a few hours after Twitter started removing millions of inactive accounts from users’ follower numbers on Thursday.

The micro-blogging site had on late Wednesday said it would begin removing ‘locked’ accounts from the follower numbers in a bid to offer a meaningful and accurate view of users’ follower count. The move will significantly bring down the ‘follower’ count of many famous people, including politicians and celebrities.

As per initial reports, the new initiative has already impacted the follower base of Trump and Obama. Twitter said the most notable changes in follower counts will be visible in the next few days.

Reports say Twitter might end up losing 6 per cent of its total user’s base. As of the first quarter of 2018, Twitter averaged at 336 million monthly active users.

Any notable change in the follower count of the ‘most followed’ Indians was not seen by late Thursday, but the number is widely expected to witness a drop in coming days. “We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation,” said Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust and Safety head.

As per data available, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, actors Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar are some of the most followed Indians on the platform. Last checked, PM Narendra Modi had 43.4 million followers on Twitter.

Explaining ‘locked account’, Gadde said tin most cases, these accounts were created by real people but Twitter cannot confirm that the original person who opened the account still has control and access to it.

“If we detect sudden changes in account behaviour, we may lock the account and contact the owner to confirm if they still have control of it. These sudden changes in account behaviour could include tweeting a large volume of unsolicited replies or mentions, tweeting misleading links, or if a large number of accounts block the account after mentioning them,” he said, adding that until they see everything is okay with the account, they lock it.

The new reforms will also impact the follower base of people who have inflated their followers by buying automated or fake accounts for increasing their influence on social media and for other personal gains.

An audit carried out in March by Twiplomacy, a platform that assists organisations and governments to improve their digital strategy, claims that more than 50 per cent followers of major leaders, including PM Modi, are likely to be fake. The audit had said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has the highest percentage of fake Twitter followers at 67 per cent. Twitter, however, had termed the report baseless.


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