Twitter Cracks Down on Frozen Accounts, Purges Millions From Follower Counts

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The social network is warning users that their follower counts might drop as a result of the change.

Twitter is cracking down on fake profiles on its platform. 

The social network said Wednesday that it will delete millions of frozen accounts from people's follower counts, part of an effort to build trust with its users.

"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," Vijaya Gadde, legal, policy, and trust and safety lead at Twitter, wrote in a company blog post.

The work Twitter is beginning Thursday involves tens of millions of locked accounts, or about 6 percent of follows on Twitter. But Twitter expects that most people will only see a change of four or fewer followers. Though it is warning some larger accounts that they could experience a larger drop in followers as a result of the change. 

The purge is impacting accounts that Twitter has classified as "locked" because of sudden changes in behavior. When an account is locked, Twitter reaches out to the owner to validate the account and reset their password. If that doesn't happen, the account remains locked.

Twitter is clarifying that these are not necessarily spam or bot accounts but accounts created by real people who cannot confirm that they are the original creator of the profile.

According to Twitter, the changes will not impact its overall user metrics because it does not include locked accounts in its monthly active user or daily active user figures. 

The changes come as Twitter has faced criticism for allowing people to artificially bolster their follower counts through the purchasing of followers that are often fake accounts or bots. A New York Times investigation revealed that many celebrities, politicians and other public figures have engaged in this practice.

Twitter has made a number of changes over the last year to clean up its platform, announcing plans to revamp its verification process and installing a number of new policies meant to curb harassment.

Twitter shares fell earlier this week on a Washington Post report that it was cleaning up fake accounts on its platform and suspending more than 1 million accounts each day. The company later clarified that those accounts were not part of its publicly reported metrics. Twitter shares are currently flat during midday trading on the Nasdaq.