Twitter's recent decision to cull from its platform millions of bots and fake accounts has seen the follower count of many users plummet this week. The platform is reportedly responding to pressure to clean up, following the proliferation of fake accounts that have been manipulating the news agenda.
South African broadcast personality Redi Thlabi lost 6,000 followers.
Thank goodness....have lost 6000 followers....feeling light already...... https://t.co/wzrlnqj5Tq— Redi Tlhabi (@RediTlhabi) July 13, 2018
Phew! I thought it was me. I thought 200 people had suddenly realized I'm a fraud. 😭— xhanti (@XhantiPayi) July 13, 2018
According to Vox.com, Twitter began removing millions of fake accounts from the platform this week. It is specifically targeting locked accounts, which are accounts it puts a lock on until the owners validate them and change their passwords.
Users are expected to lose tens of millions of followers, and the total combined Twitter follower count will drop by 6 percent.
Already, Donald Trump has lost 100,000 followers, and Barack Obama has lost 400,000.
The far right has called it a "purge", complaining that Twitter is specifically targeting right-wing groups in a mass-censorship move. According to The Independent in the U.K., some have called it a "war on conservatives", but it is not possible to know where the accounts are located — and right-wing supporter accounts aren't the only ones being targeted.
For example, actor/author/activist polymath — and definite leftie — Stephen Fry, lost hundreds of thousands.
What the heckfire? 400,000 followers expunged! At a stroke? Nearly half a million of my devoted adherents were BOTS? It explains so much. At least I can now relax in the knowledge that we scattered lonely survivors are the finest and fairest. We've lost the maniacs and trolls.— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) July 13, 2018
Twitter conducted a similar exercise earlier this year, deleting thousands of bot accounts in February. According to The Daily Beast, there was little forewarning or explanation given by the platform.
Many conservatives complained that they were being targeted. But in a blog post just after the crackdown, Twitter said the changes were to "restring people using bots to artificially amplify or inflate the prominence of certain tweets."
"In January, we announced that as part of our Information Quality efforts we would be making changes... to limit the ability of users to perform coordinated actions across multiple accounts. These changes are an important step in ensuring we stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter—including elections in the United States and around the world," the blog post claimed.