Decrease in Twitter Followers? Here’s Why.
In an effort to cut down on fraud, Twitter recently announced that locked accounts would be removed from users’ follower counts, meaning many individuals and brands will see a drop in their number of followers, effective this week.
Twitter expects that most individuals will see a change of four followers or less, while larger accounts may see a more significant drop. Though they have not released the number of affected users, The New York Times is reporting that the company will “strip tens of millions of questionable accounts from users’ followers,” leading to a 6% decrease in combined follower count on Twitter. While the biggest changes will be seen in the following days, accounts may find fluctuations in follower counts more common as Twitter continues to refine their process and identify additional accounts.
As follower count is a public feature and often associated with an account’s perceived credibility, Twitter hopes to increase transparency across the platform by preventing inflation and working to ensure that the numbers are both meaningful and accurate. At this time, there will be no change to Tweets, Retweets, or likes. Twitter has also stated that this will not affect the platform’s Monthly Active Users (MAU) or Daily Active Users (DAU) metrics as inactive accounts are already removed these counts.
Locked accounts, in most cases, were created by real people, as opposed to spam or bot accounts, but Twitter is unable to confirm that the individual still has access to and remains in control of their account. Often, this is due to a sudden change in account behavior, such as a large volume of unsolicited replies or mentions, misleading links, or if they have been blocked by a large number of accounts. Accounts may also be locked if Twitter feels that their login information has been compromised. In these cases, Twitter will lock the account and reach out to the owner to validate the account and change their password. If an account is locked, the users cannot publish Tweets, Retweet, or be served ads.
This update comes in the midst of a larger shift across social networks as they work to increase authenticity and trust within their platforms. For Twitter, this is a part of their larger “healthy conversations” initiative, to remove that which distorts and distracts from conversations through the use of human review processes and machine learnings, including those that evaluate behavioral signals. There are also steps being taken in order to decrease the number of “spammy” or automated accounts on Twitter, with up to 9.9 million accounts being challenged per week in May, and similar efforts are being taken to avoid misuse of Twitter’s APIs.
Other changes in the social ecosystem include Facebook’s recent implementation of the “View Ads” feature, which allows users to see all active ads that any page may be running within the platform, while also disclosing information pertinent to the page’s integrity, such as creation date and name changes. Twitter and Facebook are also focusing their attention towards political ads, increasing regulation and security, while making the ads more transparent to users through the use of badges and labels. Facebook has stated that they will also keep a 4-year rolling archive of such ads, available for public viewing.
Suggested Reading: Facebook’s Increased Transparency and Its Effects on Advertisers
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While many efforts are being taken to re-establish trust among users, it is likely that this is only the beginning of the changes that we will continue to see in the following months and years.
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