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Politicians, Bollywood stars lose followers as Twitter goes on a clean-up drive

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From Narendra Modi to superstar Shah Rukh Khan, notable personalities have lost followers in the Twitter purge.

New Delhi: Social media giant Twitter is on a major clean-up drive, deleting millions of fake accounts to combat social media fraud and ‘build trust in the website’, in a move that could possibly become a headache for Indian politicians and celebrities.

Starting Thursday, Twitter has been locking fictitious accounts for bulk tweeting, posting large number of unsolicited replies, or sharing links with misleading information.

The move is aimed at users reportedly inflating their followers on the platform with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to ‘bolster their political activism, business endeavours or entertainment careers’.

“This is another step to improve Twitter, and ensure everyone can have confidence in their followers,” Twitter said in a statement Thursday.

How they fell

The decision had an almost immediate impact with followers of many noted Indian politicians and film stars seeing a sharp decline.

Social blade, a software that helps track social media stats, threw interesting insights into how politicians fared after Twitter’s war on fake followers.

Since the clean-up started, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lost 2,84,746 followers (43.1 million currently) while Rahul Gandhi lost over 17,000 followers (7.22 million). BJP chief Amit Shah also saw a drop of about 30,000 followers (11.3 million) since the drive started.

Twitter’s resident English teacher and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor lost 1,51,509 followers (6.59 million) in just 24 hours, while the government’s minister-on-call Sushma Swaraj lost close to 75,000 followers (11.8 million).

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal too lost nearly 32,000 followers (13.8 million).

Union minister Smriti Irani, who has, of late, been lying low on Twitter, lost close to 40,000 followers (8.19 million) while minister without portfolio Arun Jaitley was down by over 50,000 followers (13 million).

However, it’s not just politicians, Bollywood superstars too are facing the crunch. Shah Rukh Khan lost almost 3.5 lakh followers (35.7 million) while Amitabh Bachchan registered an even bigger loss, at over 4 lakh (34.5 million).

Ironically, the purge’s biggest victim is Twitter’s own primary account which had to bid farewell to 7.5 million followers, a 12% drop from 62.85 million to 55.35 million.

A case of fake followers

According to data analytics website Twitter Audit, Modi, Kejriwal and Gandhi together have a combined Twitter credibility of just 35% — only 35 out of every 100 followers on an average are ‘real people’.

A Twitter audit carried out in March 2018 by Twiplomacy, a platform that assists organisations and governments to improve their digital strategy, claimed that more than 50% of followers of profiles of major leaders, including that of Modi, are likely to be fake.

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