Twitter: get ready for follower counts to drop.
Twitter: get ready for follower counts to drop.

Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Some of Twitter’s most popular users may soon start losing a lot of followers.

The company announced Wednesday that it will begin removing millions of inactive accounts from users’ follower numbers in the interest of “building trust.” This means nearly all Twitter users will see at least small declines in their follower counts this week, and higher-profile accounts could see significant drops.

All in all, the update will remove “tens of millions” of accounts from users’ follower number and impact around 6 percent of all follows on Twitter, according to a spokesperson for the company.

The move marks the second time in less than a week that Twitter has publicly discussed its wide-ranging efforts to weed out accounts that aren’t contributing to “healthy conversation” on the service. 

Last week, the company confirmed that it had significantly ramped up suspensions, with more than 70 million accounts suspended in May and June alone. But that effort, which is aimed at bot and spam accounts, is separate from the latest purge affecting follower counts. 



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In this case, Twitter is addressing the millions of inactive accounts that were likely originally started by actual human users, but have since been “locked” for other types of suspect behavior. 

“Over the years, we’ve locked accounts when we detected sudden changes in account behavior. In these situations, we reach out to the owners of the accounts and unless they validate the account and reset their passwords, we keep them locked with no ability to log in,” Twitter writes in a statement.

The goal of these “lockouts,” as Twitter users sometimes call them, is to address problematic behavior or protect account owners in the case of a potential breach. But now that Twitter’s decided to focus on improving “conversational health,” it’s decided those locked out accounts should no longer count as active followers. (Importantly, these accounts are not being removed from Twitter altogether.)

Whether or not you’ll even notice the change likely depends on how many followers you have. Twitter says “most people will see a change of four followers or fewer,” but larger accounts could lose far more followers in the days and weeks to come.

So, brands, influencers, and other Twitter celebs should be prepared: you might have a lot of work ahead of you to build your follower numbers back up.

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