Many celebrities, politicians and so-called social media influencers found their Twitter followings knocked down a few digits on Thursday as the company slashed tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers.
For example, the actor Ashton Kutcher, an active member since the company’s early days who led many other celebrities to embrace the platform, lost more than a million of his followers. 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. Kim Kardashian West also lost a couple of million. She was at 58.5 million late Thursday as the purge continued.
Aly Pavela, a Twitter spokeswoman, said the work of locking and eliminating suspicious accounts from users’ followers 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.
When the work is done, Twitter expects it will have reduced the total follower count on the platform by about 6 percent – a substantial drop.
President Trump, who has used Twitter as a way to speak directly to both loyal voters and critics, lost about 340,000 followers in the Twitter purge, knocked down to 53 million from 53.4 million on Wednesday. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, took a much bigger hit, losing three million followers in about one day. (He started with many more, dropping to 101 million on Thursday from 104 million the day before.)
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. (The New York Times)
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