The Twitter Purge of 2018
July 13, 2018
It’s been a long time coming that Twitter made a purge of fake accounts, especially since their announcement earlier this year that they would be cracking down on bots, spam, and fake users. Twitter is one of many social media platforms where users can create accounts to socialize, advertise and essentially market themselves to other users. It’s worked well for businesses across the globe, political parties, and entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, Twitter is also one of the single easiest social media platforms to create a fake account through.
Fake accounts are created for various reasons on social media, from trolling, which involves the online heckling of users, to political gain, and even popularity contests. Many celebrity users have been accused of buying followers to increase their popularity, online status, and credibility through social media. While it’s become less practiced in recent months, the taboo art of buying Twitter followers is still a problem.
Fortunately, Twitter has finally taken a stand against these faux accounts, removing millions of “users” in the past week. Some celebrity tweeters saw a decline of hundreds of thousands, while others lost millions. Barack Obama, for example lost close to 3-million followers, while current president, Donald Trump lost a little over 300,000. Even Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey saw a decline in followers by roughly 200,000.
The Social Media War
Social media platforms have been battling it out on the internet for years, but the recent scandal with Facebook has rocked social media to its core and caused an upheaval of advertising, news, and user regulations. New rules are being put in place to create a safer, more private user experience through many platforms, and these recent purges by Twitter is the company’s way of showing they are on board with healthy social media makeovers.
The purge was announced, advertised and explained before accounts became suspended, deactivated and deleted. One Twitter team lawyer, V. Gadde, even went so far as to post a blog update on the purge, why it was happening and what users could expect following these changes. The disruption of Twitter accounts has caused something of an uproar across the social media platform as users rush to determine how much credibility they may have lost with other followers. It may not affect the standard everyday Joe, but business users will see some change in followers and what people are saying about them through tweets and shares.
So, who was deleted? For the most part, Twitter users who followed standard tweeting protocol are fine. The change was made to remove spam, automated messages, and trolls from commenting and following real, honest users who utilize the platform regularly for business and socialization. Much the same as a “no soliciting” sign works, Twitter has poised itself on the cusp of a “private number” infrastructure, giving its users the opportunity to protect themselves more thoroughly from those who would anonymously tease or harass.
The upheaval of these Twitter accounts has already caused waves within the social media community with a loss in the millions. Without these accounts, Twitter numbers have begun to dwindle significantly, and real-time users may even disband, giving Twitter a similar loss that Facebook faced early this year following their Cambridge Analytica scandal. How this change will affect the stocks are yet to be seen.
Facebook vs. Twitter
Despite this newfound need to purge fake accounts for Twitter, this isn’t the first time social media has taken a stand against fakers. Facebook is known to be harsh on those who create fake accounts, change the name on their account too many times, or post what appears to be automated nonsense. When an account is changed too often, Facebook has even been known to require the user to show proof of name with a scan of a piece of government issued ID. Of course, this type of governing won’t cease the use of fake accounts altogether and many fly under the radar, using fake accounts for everything from extra tokens in online games to advertising purposes.
Facebook has also begun cracking down more heavily on advertising in general; blocking anything related to guns and ammo and monitoring more thoroughly those ads related to political gain. In fact recent data from Facebook indicates that the company will no longer support any political campaigning through their site whatsoever, although this is yet to be seen. How does this compare to the Twitter infrastructure of user conduct? Well, it’s like apples and oranges for now, but Twitter could begin picking up more of the standards set forth by competitor sites like Facebook and Instagram.
For now, it looks like Twitter will be focusing mainly on the negative impact of trolling, anonymous comments, automated users, and fake accounts. While this isn’t quite as reassuring as some of the privacy and safety steps Facebook has set in motion, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
It seems like many users support the latest move by Twitter to disable these fake accounts and disassemble the army of purchased followers, but there are also those who resent the change. Many accounts which depend on the number of followers they had in order to appear as an authority in their industry are now at a loss. Having spent hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on followers, there are some users who may decide to jump ship altogether. At the very least, there will be quite a few who are left to try and collect new users through honest means.