Many celebrities, politicians and so-called social media influencers found their Twitter followings knocked down a few digits on Thursday 12th July as twitter purge slashed tens of millions of suspicious accounts from the totals.
For example, the actor Ashton Kutcher, an active member since the company’s early days who led other celebrities to embrace the platform, saw his follower count drop by more than a million. On Wednesday afternoon, he had 19.1 million. By Thursday evening, that was down to 18 million, a drop of nearly 6 percent.
Oprah Winfrey, who sent her inaugural tweet in 2009, had her following cut by about 1.4 million between Wednesday and Thursday evening. Ellen DeGeneres lost two million, leaving her at 76.1 million followers.
The basketball star Shaquille O’Neal also lost about a million, dropping from 15.3 million followers. Rihanna lost more than two million — but she still has 86.8 million people watching her tweets. Katy Perry saw her count drop by three million to 107 million.
Twitter announced that it started purging millions of accounts yesterday. The micro-blogging platform specified that it would be removing locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally, so we were to expect a drop in follower counts today. The accounts that Twitter will be purging today are locked accounts that the company ‘detected sudden changes in account behaviour’ and if the owners didn’t validate their accounts, they were henceforth purged.
Aly Pavela, a Twitter spokeswoman, said the work of locking and eliminating suspicious accounts from users’ follower counts would continue over the coming days.
The company is taking the action to restore trust in its platform. Many users have inflated their followings with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.
The social media company itself was not spared. Twitter’s main account lost about 12 percent of its total followers (about 7.7 million) from Wednesday to Thursday. The Twitter chief executive, Jack Dorsey, had lost about 230,000 followers by Thursday evening.
An investigation by The Times in January found that one small company in Florida sold fake followers and other social media engagement to hundreds of thousands of users around the world, including politicians, models, actors and authors. The revelations prompted calls in Congress for intervention by the Federal Trade Commission and investigations in at least two states.
In the aftermath of this week’s follower purge, people who have built their celebrity on social media platforms took a hit as well. Kim Kardashian West lost about 3 percent of her Twitter following, dropping down to about 58.5 million as of Thursday evening. Justin Bieber had been stripped of about three million followers so far, while Ariana Grande lost about 932,000.
Some celebrities saw more than just a meager cut. Kathy Ireland, the onetime swimsuit model who presides over a half-billion-dollar licensing empire, lost a whopping 77 percent of her followers between Wednesday and Thursday evening.
How many followers have you lost as a result of this purge?
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