Micro-blogging website Twitter announced on Wednesday that it was removing all locked accounts that were disabled due to suspicious activity from follower counts across profiles globally. The move, says Twitter, aims to encourage “healthy conversation” and fight fake accounts.
Many users, especially the high-profile ones, may seeing a big drop in their follower base due to the move.
“Follower counts are a visible feature, and Twitter aims for everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate,” the company said in a blog posted on Wednesday.
Twitter has until now followed a practice of locking accounts when it detects sudden changes in account behaviour.
“This week, Twitter will be removing these locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally. As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, wrote in a blog post.
These locked accounts are different from spams or bots, and had been in most cases created by real people.
“Spam accounts (sometimes referred to as bots) typically exhibit spammy behavior from the beginning, are increasingly predictable by our systems, and can be automatically shut down with our technology,” said the post.
About the locked accounts Twitter is going to remove, the post says: “This specific update is focused on followers because it is one of the most visible features on our service and often associated with account credibility.”
According to Twitter, while most people will see a change of four or fewer followers, those with larger follower base are going to see a significant drop.
“Twitter understands this may be hard for some, but Twitter believes accuracy and transparency will make the platform a more trusted service for public conversation,” said the post.
With the powerful social media platform undertaking a drive to identify and challenge problematic accounts, the follower counts of its users may continue to see change more regularly.
Twitter has a total of 330 million monthly active users at the moment, and it insists that removing locked accounts would not impact the number.
Why is an account locked?
Twitter sometimes locks an account when it sees email and password combinations from other services are posted online, and believe the particular piece of information could put the security of an account at risk. Until it confirms that everything is ok with the account, the account remains locked and the user is not able to Tweet or see ads during the time. While locking an account on seeing sudden changes in its behaviour, Twitter will contact the owner to confirm they still have control of it. These sudden changes in account behaviour may include tweeting a large volume of unsolicited replies or mentions, posting misleading links, or if a large number of accounts block the account after mentioning them.