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Trump, Obama and Kim Kardashian Hit by Twitter Purge

Major accounts see up to millions of lost followers as Twitter expunges “locked” accounts

Last Updated: July 12, 2018 @ 2:34 PM

The Twitter “purge” is underway, and not even the biggest accounts, from President Donald Trump to President Barack Obama, can escape without losing a healthy chunk of their followers.

The social media giant began Thursday removing “locked” accounts, which have been made inactive until further verification by Twitter. The move comes one day after the company announced that prominent accounts could see a “significant drop.”

Trump, perhaps the most notorious Twitter user on the planet right now, saw his follower count drop by roughly 400,000 people to 53 million followers on Thursday — but the purge appears to be ongoing and that number could increase dramatically. His predecessor Obama was hit even harder, falling by more than 2.5 million followers in the past 24 hours to 101 million followers.

Kim Kardashian West unloaded 1.7 million followers in the last day, going from 60.2 million followers to 58.5 million on Thursday. Even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey lost followers, but he didn’t appear upset about it. Dorsey tweeted he lost 200,000 followers, followed by the waving emoji.

Twitter noted on Wednesday locked accounts are different from spam and bot accounts — two other issues that have plagued the platform — in that they were usually started by “real people,” but the company is unable to verify they’re still being run by their initial creators.

Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal, policy, and trust, said on Wednesday the follower purge “may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.”

The announcement follows the Washington Post’s report last week that Twitter is increasingly cracking down on fake accounts, with the company suspending 70 million accounts between May and June. The company’s stock fell 9 percent on Monday, as Wall Street worried Twitter’s plan to cleanup its platform would impact its user base. Twitter said on Thursday its removal of locked accounts from follower counts will not impact its daily or monthly user count.

Other big-time influencers were impacted on Thursday as well. Elon Musk lost 200,000 followers, while Rihanna had lost 900,000 since 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. And sorry to Justin Bieber, but the singer saw a healthy dip in followers, dropping nearly 3 million followers to 104 million on Thursday.