Donald Trump is losing tens of thousands of Twitter followers, for reasons that have nothing to do with his popularity (or the number of people who follow him simply to see what he’s going to say next). Barack Obama is, too.
As Fast Company reports, Trump is has lost 100,000 of his 53.4 million followers. Barack Obama, meanwhile, has lost about 400,000 of his 104 million followers. Outside of the current and former presidents of the United States, about six percent of the estimated 336 million monthly active users. And in fact, the social media platform has been shutting down about one million accounts per day – and users with huge followers, such as politicians and entertainers, stand to lose the most, simply due to the economies of scale. In May and June alone, Twitter had shut down an estimated 70 million accounts.
So what’s the reason for the purge? According to Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety lead Vijaya Gadde, it’s a routine cleanup of inactive, locked accounts.
“Over the years, we’ve locked accounts when we detected sudden changes in account behavior. 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.”
One thing that Gadde didn’t mention, but is looming large over the purge, is the fact that the 2018 mid-term elections are coming up in the United States, and the last thing Twitter needs is to, like competing social media platform Facebook, be caught up in a scandal with ties to election tampering.
Most of those accounts were probably fake to begin with, according to USA Today.
So why would anyone fake a Twitter account? According to Columbia Journalism Review, the buying and selling of fake Twitter accounts has been a cottage industry bedeviling the company for years. Some, like certain politicians and entertainers, have been accused of fraudulently inflating their Twitter following in order to expand their perceived status.
Of course, no one is saying that Donald Trump or Barack Obama have purchased fake Twitter accounts. And indeed, even regular users, who have followers in the triple digits or lower, can have fake followers. In fact, regular Twitter users who aren’t politicians or entertainers can expect to lose followers as well – likely not more than a half dozen, says Fast Company.