President Trump once again accused Twitter of deliberately purging his followers on Tuesday, while claiming the social networking service is making it more difficult for users to track his account — a claim Twitter said isn’t true.
In a Tuesday morning tweet, the president said Facebook, Twitter and Google are all “so biased” in favor of Democrats.
“Twitter, in fact, has made it much more difficult for people” to follow his account, Trump continued. “They have removed many names [and] greatly slowed the level and speed of increase. They have acknowledged-done NOTHING!”
Facebook, Twitter and Google are so biased toward the Dems it is ridiculous! Twitter, in fact, has made it much more difficult for people to join @realDonaldTrump. They have removed many names & greatly slowed the level and speed of increase. They have acknowledged-done NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2018
Twitter, in response to TheWrap, said it doesn’t punish users based on political affiliation and that any decrease in followers President Trump has seen is due to the company’s efforts to remove robot accounts.
“Our focus is on the health of the service, and that includes work to remove fake accounts to prevent malicious behavior,” a Twitter spokesperson told TheWrap. “Many prominent accounts have seen follower counts drop, but the result is higher confidence that the followers they have are real, engaged people.”
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it isn’t the first time Twitter has found itself in the president’s crosshairs. Less than two months ago, Trump accused Twitter of removing “many people” from his followers list. “More importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join – they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all,” the president tweeted in October.
Twitter has started cracking down on bot accounts this year, impacting its user base. The company lost 9 million monthly users during the third quarter, although it said daily active users increased 9 percent from the previous year. Back in July, Twitter removed “locked” accounts and warned some users may see a “significant drop” in followers.
If Twitter was running a covert operation to delete President Trump’s followers, it hasn’t done a very good job of it. When the company started deleting locked accounts last summer, President Trump had about 55.6 million followers; he now has 56.3 million on Tuesday.
Twitter’s efforts to remove locked accounts also impacted politicians from both sides of the aisle. Barack Obama, for example, lost 3 million followers in July.
President Trump’s increasingly routine claim of tech’s “bias” against Republicans could still be a rallying cry for his base, however. Many conservatives have been peeved by a growing list of right-wing commentators that have been punished by Twitter this year. InfoWars boss Alex Jones was removed in September for “abusive behavior.” Far-right activist Laura Loomer was permanently suspended last month for calling incoming Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar “anti Jewish” for her support of the “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” movement against Israel. Loomer later protested at Twitter’s New York City office and blasted the company for kicking off several prominent conservatives while failing to remove Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who compared Jews to termites in a video shared on social media in October. Twitter also banned the Proud Boys and its leader, Gavin McInnes, in August for violating its policy against “violent extremist groups.”