In July 2018, Twitter announced that it would start deleting fake Twitter followers, including bots and suspicious accounts at a scale that was never seen before. The rate of account deletion was more than a million accounts per day for about 2 months. This move was solely implemented to minimize the flow of disinformation on the platform and improve conversation quality.
Twitter suspended in excess of 70 million fake accounts in the months of May and June, and this pace has continued in the month of July. The company also stated that it would start deleting accounts that have been inactive for 6 months.
“What do you think made the company so edgy that it started to gobble up its own user base?”
When Twitter’s founders co-founded the platform 14 years ago, little did they knew that the platform would have such a massive reach and impact on people’s lives. In the 2016 Presidential elections, it emerged as a major news and communication medium for candidates as well as the general population.
The platform generated massive levels of engagement and the ideas flowed freely. No one could have guessed at the time that the conversations were, at large, driven by sponsored troll armies and bots. This had a massive impact on the conversation quality of the platform.
On October 30, 2017, The Washington Post reported that in testimony to Congress, the micro-blogging platform reported that it had identified 2,752 troll accounts and 36,000 bot accounts that sent out 1.4 million tweets during the 2016 presidential election. This was a huge shift from Twitter as it previously reported only 201 such accounts. A majority of these accounts were linked to Russia.
Since the events unfolded, Twitter has initiated an aggressive removal of fake and bot Twitter accounts and resulted in an approximate 6% drop in the userbase of the platform. This move came with risks to the company’s growth and was one of the major decisions undertaken by the company. It amazed many people how a social media platform can facilitate such a wide scale of voter deception and spread disinformation.
Many researchers, investors, and social media gurus have criticized Twitter for not taking the appropriate steps to tackle the growing problem of fake accounts. Prior to targeting and deleting fake accounts, Twitter had an internal operation, called ‘Operation Megaphone’. This operation involved purchasing fake Twitter accounts and analyzing the connection between them.
The NYT exposed a company called Devumi that sold 25,000 high quality ‘English speaking’ fake followers for just $225. That comes down to less than a cent per follower. Devumi isn’t a single entity that has been doing this. There is an entire grey market of sites selling fake followers for pennies. NYT obtained the client list of Devumi and found details of numerous high profile clients who had purchased fake followers in the past. Some of the popular Twitter personalities who had Devumi’s fake followers include Michael Dell (Dell’s CEO), John Leguizamo (actor), even Twitter board member Martha Lane Fox (!) have fake followers in their accounts.
The impact of fake Twitter followers is enormous. There are entire armies of bots, just waiting to be unleashed on any targeted Twitter account. Although Twitter has now begun purging fake Twitter accounts, it still has a long way to go before each and every account on the platform is fake follower free.
What can you do in the meantime?
FollowerAudit is a Twitter follower policing platform that can help you in identifying fake followers from any public account. Even if it has millions of followers!
Donald Trump’s Twitter account? Sure!
Taylor Swift’s Twitter account? No problem!
Your own Twitter account? Is that even a question now?
Steps for Finding Fake Followers Using FollowerAudit
- Go to followeraudit.com
- Enter the user name of the account that you wish to audit. Click on submit.
- Sign in with Twitter in the dialogue box.
- On the next page, followers would be classified under Real, Inactive, and fake followers.
Click here and analyze your Twitter followers right away!