Twitter follower counts drop after a change in how they are counted

Twitter will stop including accounts blocked by bad behavior in publicly published followers' counts, the company said today. Accounts blocked for violating company standards remain immobilized unless the owner re-initiates a session and re-establishes his or her password. From now on, those blocked accounts will not be counted as followers of any account they have followed.

Most people will lose four followers or less because of the change, Twitter said. But large accounts could lose hundreds of thousands of accounts. The account of President Donald Trump lost 100,000 followers immediately after Twitter made the switch, a Washington Post reporter found and former President Barack Obama lost 400,000.

"You should be sure that the fan numbers presented on Twitter are meaningful and accurate," said Vijaya Gadde, who oversees the Twitter security team, in a tweet . "We are introducing a change in fan counts as part of our work to make Twitter a more reliable service for public conversation."

Reasons why Twitter would block an account include sending a large volume of responses by Twitter or mentions, tweeting "deceptive" links and being blocked by a large number of accounts after the account mentions them. Accounts can also be blocked for more innocuous reasons, such as if the account's email and password are posted online as part of a leak.

Twitter did not respond if it would stop showing the participation numbers of the blocked accounts, eliminating their likes and retweets from publicly published counts, for example.

The changes will be implemented in "the next few days," Twitter said. But the fan counts will continue to change as Twitter works to eliminate more bad accounts from the service.

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