Yesterday, Twitter announced that it is changing the way it calculates followers, no longer counting accounts that have been locked due to sudden changes in behavior. Right now, the account that seems to have experienced the biggest drop in followers is Twitter itself.
As of this writing, Twitter’s official Twitter account has 55.4 million followers. Yesterday, according to the Wayback Machine, Twitter had 62.8 million followers. That means Twitter’s follower count dropped by more than 7 million, or roughly 10 percent.
Other accounts with high follower numbers — such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna, who all have between 110 and 89 million followers — so far don’t appear to have lost significant amounts of followers, at least not in the millions. The Washington Post‘s Elizabeth Dwoskin reported yesterday that President Donald Trump lost 100,000 followers, while former president Barack Obama lost 400,000. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appears to have had the same amount of Twitter followers yesterday — 4.22 million — as he did today.
Other Twitter users have reported losing hundreds or thousands of followers. This reporter has lost roughly 30 followers since last night.
The company said yesterday that the change would be rolled out globally this week, so it’s likely that users will continue to see their follower counts fluctuate in the next few days.
Twitter said that the change was aimed at “promoting healthy conversation” on the platform, and that most followers will see a change of four followers or fewer. “Follower counts are a visible feature, and we want everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s legal, policy, and trust & safety lead wrote in a blog post.
Twitter said that the new changes were aimed at accounts where the company wasn’t certain that the original account creator still had control over it. The company can detect this by looking at whether the account is exhibiting sudden changes in behavior, like tweeting at large amounts of accounts unsolicited, among other factors. The company said that its new policy wouldn’t affect daily active user or monthly active user metrics.
When reached by VentureBeat today, Twitter declined to provide any additional comments on yesterday’s announcement and how the follower count change is going.
Update, 12:57 p.m. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that he’s now lost 200,000 followers:
The follower counts of celebrities have continued to drop after VentureBeat published this story — Katy Perry now appears to have lost 2 million followers, Justin Bieber 3 million, and Rihanna 500,000.