Scores of prominent conservative and right-leaning Twitter users were up in arms on Wednesday morning, accusing the social media company of purging thousands of followers.
The hashtag #Twitterlockout quickly gained steam and started trending across the country, with many saying they lost a substantial amount of followers as Twitter looked to weed out bot accounts. Instead, real users were also burned by Twitter, they argue.
In a response to TheWrap, a Twitter spokesperson said accounts aren’t being deactivated because of their politics.
“Twitter’s tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias. As part of our ongoing work in safety, we identify suspicious account behaviors that indicate automated activity or violations of our policies around having multiple accounts, or abuse,” said the spokesperson. “We also take action on any accounts we find that violate our terms of service, including asking account owners to confirm a phone number so we can confirm a human is behind it. That’s why some people may be experiencing suspensions or locks. This is part of our ongoing, comprehensive efforts to make Twitter safer and healthier for everyone.”
Paul Joseph Watson, a commentator for InfoWars, asked, “Who else lost thousands of followers overnight?” He later tweeted he’d gained back all the followers he’d lost.
Who else lost thousands of followers overnight?
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) February 21, 2018
Conservative blog The Columbia Bugle said it lost more than 2,000 followers in the “purge.”
Whoa! Looks like twitter just did another purge, I'm down 2.2k now. #TwitterLockout
— The Columbia Bugle ???????? (@ColumbiaBugle) February 21, 2018
National Rifle Association-defending former secret service agent Dan Bongino echoed the sentiment, along with ESPN alum and regular Fox News guest Britt McHenry. “Do you want conservatives to leave your site,” she asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. McHenry also included a screenshot of a follower who said she’d been “blacklisted.”
The twitter purge is real. You may have to refollow me after last night if you’re interested in my content. Twitter blocked me from twitter ads last night and purged thousands of followers. Spread the word. #TwitterLockOut @TwitterSupport @jack @twitter
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) February 21, 2018
The #Twitterlockout is real, censorship and targeting Conservatives. Do you want Conservatives to leave your site @jack? Been wondering why followers have been dropping? And no haters, they’re not “bots.” An awesome Fox viewer and follower sent me this: pic.twitter.com/fuyxD97Gkc
— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) February 21, 2018
I woke this morning to find that my Twitter account was locked and I had lost over 3,000 followers in a matter of hours.#TwitterLockOut
— Mark Pantano (@TheMarkPantano) February 21, 2018
Alt-right staple and self-professed white supremacist Richard Spencer also claimed the “major purge” cost him followers.
I've lost close to 1,000 followers offer the past few hours.
Major purge underway.
— Richard ???? Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) February 21, 2018
Some have pushed for right-leaning Twitter users to ditch the platform altogether and move to Gab, a social media site that “champions free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online,” according to its site.
The best thing you can do to fight Twitter censorship is to create a Gab account and start using it regularly. The more people do so, the more useful Gab will become.
— Jared Beck ???? (@JaredBeck) February 21, 2018