In a bid to fight fake accounts on Twitter, the micro-blogging website on Wednesday announced it will remove locked accounts - which are disabled because of suspicious activity - from follower counts across profiles globally.
This will result in some high-profile users seeing a big drop in their base of followers. "Follower counts are a visible feature, and Twitter aims for everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate," the company said in a statement.
Over the years, Twitter has locked accounts when it detected sudden changes in account behaviour.
"This week, Twitter will be removing these locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally. As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down," the company said.
"This specific update is focused on followers because it is one of the most visible features on our service and often associated with account credibility," Vijaya Gadde, Twitter''s legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, wrote in a blog post.
Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop.
"Twitter understands this may be hard for some, but Twitter believes accuracy and transparency will make the platform a more trusted service for public conversation," the company noted.
The follower counts may continue to change more regularly as part of Twitter''s ongoing work to proactively identify and challenge problematic accounts.
If Twitter detects sudden changes in account behaviour, Twitter may lock the account and contact the owner to confirm they still have control of it.
The platform sometimes lock an account if it sees email and password combinations from other services posted online and believe that information could put the security of an account at risk.
"Until Twitter confirms that everything is ok with the account, Twitter will lock the account, which makes the account unable to tweet or see ads," the company said.
In most cases, these accounts were created by real people but the platform cannot confirm that the original person who opened the account still has control and access to it.
Spam or bot accounts exhibit "spammy behaviour" from the beginning, are increasingly predictable by Twitter''s systems and Twitter can use its technology to automatically shut them down.
Removing locked accounts from followers will not impact the number of overall Twitter users that stands at 330 million MAUs, the micro-blogging platform stressed.
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