Twitter recently announced that they will begin removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers starting today, signaling a major new effort to restore trust on the popular platform.
Twitter suspended more than 70 million fake accounts throughout May and June with about one million accounts deleted a day, but its efforts to purge malicious and spam accounts may have contributed to a 9% plunge in its stock Monday, as investors question whether the efforts will stunt user growth in the future. However, the move by Twitter is a part of the latest series of hard choices that the company is making to prioritize cleaning up its platform, promoting what the Chief Executive Jack Dorsey calls “healthy conversations”.
The Era of New Reform
The reform takes aim at a pervasive form of social media fraud. Many users have inflated their followers on Twitter or other services with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.
“We don’t want to incentivize the purchase of followers and fake accounts to artificially inflate follower counts, because it’s not an accurate measure of someone’s influence on the platform or influence in the world. We think it’s a really important and meaningful metric, and we want people to have confidence that these are engaged users that are following other accounts.” Said Del Harvey, Twitter’s VP for trust and safety, The New York Times reports.
This decision will have an immediate impact: Beginning on today, many users, including all of those who have bought fake followers and any others who are followed by suspicious accounts, will see their number of followers fall. While Twitter declined to disclose the exact number of affected users to the public, the company said it would strip tens of millions of questionable accounts from users’ followers to maintain the security of the website.
The Painful Journey
The journey has not been easy, and this latest decision to sweep frozen profiles from follower counts may be the most painful to the company’s user base of celebrities, journalists, and leaders in politics and business. President Donald Trump lost about 100,000 of his 53.4 million followers and former President Barack Obama lost about 400,000 of his 104 million followers.
Furthermore, Twitter announced this week that it will no longer include ‘locked’ accounts in users’ follower numbers in an attempt to restore faith in follower counts. Twitter locks accounts if it detects sudden changes of behavior, such as 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. , Twitter will often unlock an account after a set period of time or once it’s verified the account owner.
“We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.” Vijaya Gadde, Officer of Legal and Safety Policy at Twitter comments on the decision.
Despite investor jitters, some say that Twitter is an excellent position to make changes, given its recent profitability, expanding ad business and rising stock price. With these changes, Twitter hopes to promote a healthy, safe community for the millions of users as the digital landscape continues to expand.
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