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The Great Twitter Purge of 2018 (and How it Affected POTUS)

by Zia A., posted 29 days ago
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Well here are three names you never expect to see lumped together in the news…

Trump, Obama and Kim Kardashian Hit by Twitter Purge

Twitter purge

This summer, in a continuing effort to “build trust and encourage healthy conversation,” Twitter launched a purge of bogus accounts. The goal was to improve transparency and the accuracy of (and confidence in) follower numbers. But some accounts aren’t feeling so confident after seeing their follower numbers drop by more than 10%.


Gold, Silver & Bronze

Katy Perry and Justin Bieber (the two most popular Twitter accounts, with 110 million and 107 million followers, respectively, pre-purge) each lost nearly three million followers. Former President Barack Obama — who boasts more Twitter followers than any former or current head of state, and still ranks in 3rd place overall — lost more than 2 million.


According to Politico, President Trump’s personal account (@realDonaldTrump) lost more than 300,000 followers, dropping to a total of 53.1 million.


Red carpet regulars Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian West each lost more than a million followers. Same for soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, cancelling out the bump of half a million followers he gained during the World Cup.


In the most ironic twist, Twitter itself suffered one of the biggest losses, their follower numbers dropping over 12% (7.5 million people).

Twitter purge


Since we make it our business to give our readers the 411 on Trump’s Twitter stats, we’d be remiss not to mention whisperings from the online rumour mill that POTUS was the victor this round of Obama vs. Trump. Some sources diplomatically stated that Trump’s “follow count remains relatively unscathed.” Others were more direct: “Obama has higher percentage of fake Twitter followers than Clinton, Trump.” What’s the real deal?

The truth is, Obama did drop more followers during the purge than POTUS (2.36 million vs. 320,000). He also started out with nearly double the followers (103.6 million vs. 53.4 million).

Twitter itself stated in its initial blog post,

Users “with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop.”

They were right.

Twitter purge


There’s also the issue of differentiating between a locked account (the target of the purge) and spam or bots.

A locked account is generally a real account that Twitter locks following suspicious changes in behaviour. That might include tweeting a large volume of unsolicited replies or tweeting misleading links. Until the company can confirm that everything is ok with the account, they lock it, putting it on a temporary hold.

A spam account (sometimes called a bot) is a software-controlled account, designed to autonomously perform actions such as tweeting, re-tweeting, liking, following, unfollowing, or direct messaging other accounts, without a real human being behind it. Depending on the particular purpose, bots can be range from merely annoying to dangerous. Twitter is working hard to clean up the platform and get rid of these accounts.

This summer’s purge was part of Twitter’s ongoing efforts to improve the health of conversations on the platform. The initiative focused on followers because it’s one of Twitter’s most visible features and often associated with account credibility. But it did not conversely affect Monthly Active User (MAU) or Daily Active User (DAU) metrics (something many social media managers also track). In their official blog post Twitter stated, “Removing locked accounts from followers doesn’t impact MAU or DAU. Locked accounts that have not reset their password in more than one month are not included in [those metrics].”


Most of the accounts affected by the purge (including @BarackObama and @realDonaldTrump) have already seen their follower counts start to tick upward again, on track with their regular growth rates. Obama has gained over half a million new followers at the time of writing. Trump has added nearly twice that amount.

Maybe it’s because people just can’t resist the temptation of POTUS’ unscripted Twitter rants. Whatever the case, despite the disparity in the size of their current audience, Trump’s follower growth is outpacing Obama’s by more than 4:1. Who knows what the future holds? Stay tuned for more updates.

Twitter purge


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