Twitter is upping its purge of what its systems decide are bot accounts by removing them from follower-lists starting Thursday, the company told the New York Times. Twitter has always said that it doesn’t include bot accounts in the active user metrics it discloses to investors. Even so, as NYT reported in January, companies like Devumi made huge business by creating fake accounts for users who paid for them. While Twitter purged some accounts in the aftermath of that revelation, it did not reduce users’ follower-counts.
That policy changed on Monday. Twitter announced then that it would no longer include them in follower lists, and that 70 million accounts had been removed in May and June. But this fresh purge that starts Thursday will probably be much more expansive — the company said that the average user will lose four followers. That could number in the hundreds of millions over the next few months.
Twitter and bots
The Times’s January story exposed just how easy it was to buy fake accounts on Twitter — and how easy it was to make a business out of doing so. Companies like Devumi made millions of fake accounts and sold them to influencers, actors and businesspeople, among others. And it wasn’t until the story that Twitter started scaling their fight against such bots. “We don’t want to incentivize the purchase of followers and fake accounts to artificially inflate follower counts, because it’s not an accurate measure of someone’s influence on the platform or influence in the world,” Del Harvey, Twitter’s VP for Trust and Safety, told the Times.
WATCH: Twitter India’s public policy head Mahima Kaul talks about how the company deals with bots and fake news.