Amidst long-standing issues with cyberbullying, hate speech and political intrigue, Twitter audits have been a necessary step closer toward getting some kind of hold on its platform.
According to the New York Times, the social media platform has started the process of removing tens of millions of fake accounts. Fake followers are to Twitter what fake news has been to Facebook: a serious, but curable, issue.
Measuring Influence Minus Fake Followers
Twitter influencers have a big problem: fake influencers who suddenly appear to become rock stars overnight.
These people often purchase influence from companies that deal in fake accounts. Anyone’s account can go from zero to 5,000 followers basically overnight if they put enough money on the table. And while this is the least of Twitter’s many problems, it appears to be the one it has chosen to tackle first.
Twitter claims it’s on the hunt to take down the many abuses of the platform by real users. The fake follower farms is the first to get any real traction, though. About six percent of the accounts on Twitter before the purge began came from companies that sell influence. They didn’t care if the accounts were deactivated, since the follower remained a follower to the purchaser even after deactivation. If a legit Twitter account had 500 deactivated bot followers, they still appeared to have the reach of a Tweeter with five hundred active human followers.
This particular practice hurt legitimate Twitter influencers, making it difficult for brands to know who was the real deal. It also discouraged potential influencers from trying, since they would never be able to reach the levels of influence some fraudsters appeared to have accumulated. Ridding the platform of these fake accounts is one in a series of steps that needed to happen to clean up the Twitterverse.
What’s Changed at Twitter
Now, Twitter will be locking any suspicious accounts, then removing them from the follower count for users.
Once the locked account is either redeemed by the owner or declared a spam account, it’s going to be dealt with accordingly. Permanent removal is possible for a spam or otherwise fake account. The Washington Post reported that Twitter had already suspended more than 70 million accounts leading up to the announcement of its new follower policy.
Twitter hopes to regain the power of influence both for its most important users and its own brand. There’s no secret that Twitter has been a problematic platform for some time. Its prospects for acquisition have been severely damaged by this fact and, despite going public in 2013, only just begun turning a profit in fourth quarter 2017.