Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday that Twitter "removed 4,000 of my followers" as the social networking site purged fake accounts — including 300,000 reportedly from President Donald Trump's feed — that were disabled because of suspicious activity.
"If you are a fake person following me, please raise your hand," Fleischer, who served in the George W. Bush White House, said in his tweet:
Twitter said Wednesday it was purging the "locked" accounts in part to increase trust in and transparency about the service.
The move was not expected to affect Twitter's average active user counts, which are key metrics Wall Street uses to track growth.
Users with locked accounts who have not reset their passwords in more than a month are not included in monthly active user (MAU) or daily active user (DAU) counts, according to news reports.
"This specific update is focused on followers because it is one of the most visible features on our service and often associated with account credibility," Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, wrote in a blog post.
While eliminating locked accounts from follower totals will not affect MAU or DAU totals, Twitter's efforts to shut down other kinds of accounts — including those set up by spammers — potentially could, Gadde acknowledged.
However, some of Twitter's biggest users, including Trump, saw huge drops in the numbers of their followers Thursday after the purge, Variety reported.
President Trump's (@realDonaldTrump) account plunged by about 300,000 users, from 53.4 million to 53.1 million, according to the report.
By contrast, former President Barack Obama's count fell by 2.1 million followers, or 2.1 percent, to 101.5 million.
Singer Katy Perry, whose account is the most-followed on Twitter, lost 1.5 million followers, dropping 1.4 percent to 108.1 million followers, Variety disclosed.
Others taking big hits included Taylor Swift, at 2.7 percent; Ellen DeGeneres, 2.5 percent; Lady Gaga, 1.9 percent; Justin Bieber, 1.3 percent; and Rihanna, 0.6 percent.
However, Twitter's primary account itself appears to be the biggest loser, Variety reported, losing 7.5 million fake accounts — or 12 percent — from 62.85 million earlier Thursday to 55.35 million by mid-afternoon.
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