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Twitter’s crackdown against fake accounts: Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Virat Kohli likely to lose followers

According to "Twitter Audit" multiple users including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi can see a dip in their followers after Twitter's clean-up.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 10, 2018 7:27:20 am
Twitter, Twitter bots, twitter fake accounts, twitter news, fake news on twitter, narendra modi twitter, modi followers on Twitter, Rahul Gandhi Twitter, Virat Kohli Twitter, sushma swaraj Twitter, twitter trolls, fake news Twitter’s crackdown could result in a decline in the number of followers of many popular profiles.

In its effort to curb the flow of misinformation and combat the issue of fake news, Twitter has suspended more than one million accounts a day in recent months, the Washington Post reported. The social media giant is focusing on machine-learning tools to proactively monitor bot accounts that are used to bloat the follower count of other profiles. Automated accounts, the company said, are being screened at the sign-up stage itself. More than 50,000 spam sign-ups per day are being blocked, it said.  Twitter’s crackdown could likely result in a decline in the number of followers of many popular profiles.

What are Twitter Bots?

A Twitter Bot is a software program that sends out automated posts on Twitter. In tech parlance, bots – short for robots – are simple computer programmes designed to carry out automated tasks. They are non-human actors that often try to get undetected. The bots can be used to make an issue trend, amplify a message of product, grab public attention and trigger policy change.

Also Read | For ‘abuse,’ Twitter blocks handle claiming to poll, work with govt

Twitter and other social media platforms such as Facebook are under pressure from users and Western governments to stem the spread of false news, often done with the help of automated accounts known as bots. Research suggests that the bots were used to manipulate public sentiment and spread propaganda on contentious issues like the 2016 US Presidential Elections, Brexit among others.

Read | Twitter bots may help drive social movements: Study

Twitter’s fight against bots

Twitter, earlier this year, announced key steps to purge its platform of bots, trolls, and fake accounts. According to its new guidelines, the social media platform will prohibit mass tweets, likes and follows and will no longer allow people to post identical messages from multiple accounts. Recently, it also stated that it will now update account metrics in real time so that Twitter’s efforts against automated behavior are reflected in follower figures and engagement counts. Last year, according to the blog, its spam policy led to removal of over 200 per cent more accounts. Last month, Twitter found almost 10 million weekly “potentially spammy or automated accounts”, it stated.

Afer Twitter took action against fake accounts, multiple users saw a sharp decline in the number of followers. Actor Amitabh Bachchan, in February, threatened to quit the platform after accusing it of reducing the number of his followers. The actor wrote on Twitter, “T 2599 – TWITTER!!!?? You reduced my number of followers!!??HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! thats a joke time to get off from you. thank you for the ride. there are many ‘other’ fish in the sea – and a lot more exciting !!”

Read | Twitter rolls out changes to curb spam, bots

How many ‘fake’ followers do these popular accounts have

According to data from social media analytics firm Twitter Audit, public personalities including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi are followed by hundreds and thousands of “fake followers”.

Twitter Audit’s tool analyses a sample size of 5,000 followers and assesses them on the number of tweets, followers, mutual followers and other parameters. According to its website, “the scoring method is not perfect but it is a good way to tell if someone with lots of followers is likely to have increased their follower count by inorganic, fraudulent, or dishonest means”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the third most followed politician on Twitter, has 23 per cent fake followers, it claims. Out of the 43 million followers that PM Modi has, over 33 million are real accounts, according to its audit which was updated a week ago. In comparison, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has 36 per cent fake followers. For Gandhi, while, 4,407, 383 out of his 7 million followers are real, over 2 million accounts are fake. US President Donald Trump who has over 51 million followers, has 86 per cent “real” followers, according to the audit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter audit score (Source: Twitter Audit) Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s Twitter audit score (Source: Twitter Audit)


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who often uses the platform to help Indians in distress, has 21 per cent fake followers. And India’s two biggest parties — the BJP and Congress — have  30 per cent and 21 per cent fake followers respectively.

Meanwhile, over 50 per cent followers of Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli are fake. According to the audit report updated in February, Kohli has 11,307,796 real followers as compared to the 14,217,704 fake followers. His wife and actor Anushka Sharma has only 29 per cent real followers, the audit report revealed. However, it was last updated four years ago.

In comparison, Deepika Padukone who has over nearly 25 million followers on Twitter, has 67 per cent of real followers. Amitabh Bachchan, one of the most popular accounts on Twitter India has 62 per cent real followers, the audit suggests. Bachchan has over 30 million followers.

Virat Kohli’s Twitter audit score (Source: Twitter Audit)

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