Micro-blogging website Twitter announced that it will remove locked accounts disabled due to suspicious activity from follower counts globally. As a result, the number of followers displayed on many user profiles may go down.
The move is a part of Twitter’s ongoing effort to fight fake news and encourage healthy conversation on Twitter. Follower counts are a visible feature, and Twitter wants everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate.
Many accounts were locked when the company detected sudden changes in those accounts’ behaviour. Twitter reached out to the owners of those accounts and asked them to validate the account and reset their passwords, failing which those accounts were locked with no log in option.
According to Twitter, most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop.
‘We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation. Though the most significant changes are happening in the next few days, follower counts may continue to change more regularly as part of our ongoing work to proactively identify and challenge problematic accounts,’ said Vijaya Gadde, Legal, Policy and Trust and Safety Lead, Twitter, in a blog post.
Why does an account get locked?
If Twitter detects sudden changes in an account behaviour, it may lock the account and contact the owner to confirm they still have control of it. These sudden changes in account behaviour could include Tweeting a large volume of unsolicited replies or mentions, Tweeting misleading links, or if a large number of accounts block the account after mentioning them. Sometimes, Twitter lock an account if they see email and password combinations from other services posted online and believe that information could put the security of an account at risk – so the company require accounts to change their passwords for protection. Until the social network confirms that everything is ok with the account, it is locked which makes them unable to Tweet or see ads.
How are these accounts different from spam or bots?
In most cases, these accounts were created by real people, but Twitter cannot confirm that the original person who opened the account still has control and access to it.
'Spam accounts (sometimes referred to as bots) typically exhibit spammy behaviour from the beginning and are increasingly predictable by our systems and can be automatically shut down with our technology,' Twitter said.
Why just followers? Will this expand to Tweets, Likes and Retweets?
This specific update is focused on followers because it is one of the most visible features on the service and often associated with the account's credibility. Once an account is locked, it cannot Tweet, like or Retweet.
Will this change affect Monthly Active User (MAU) or Daily Active User (DAU) metrics?
No, it will not. Removing locked accounts from followers doesn't impact MAU or DAU. Locked accounts that have not reset their password in more than one month are not included in MAU or DAU.
'While today’s change doesn’t affect MAU or DAU, some accounts we remove from the service as part of our ongoing commitment to a healthy public conversation have the potential to impact publicly reported metrics,' Gadde emphasised.