The great fake Twitter purge - have your followers fallen?

Wait, what? 
 
Twitter has shut down up to 70 million dodgy and fake accounts since May and a further purge began on Wednesday, so you should check your account. 
 

I don't have one but I was thinking about starting...

Well beware of Twitterbots - one significant academic study estimated that up to 15% of Twitter users were fake automated bot accounts.


I'll add to my beware list - so who else has fake followers?  

Oprah has lost 1.4 million since Wednesday, Ellen DeGeneres 2m, Obama a whopping 3m and Boris Trump (sorry it amuses me) about 340K. Feeling a touch of schadenfreude? 


Tiny bit - can't lie. But who were the biggest losers?

Twitter's own account which lost 7.5 million fake followers (whoops) to drop 12% from 62.85 to about 55m. Rwandan president Paul Kagame lost a THIRD of his, while some woman called Kathy Ireland who has a half billion dollar licensing empire lost 77 percent of all her followers. 


Politicians and biz people buying fans - whatever next? But can you explain these dud accounts in more detail? I'm confused.

Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's legal eagle says: “In most cases, these accounts were created by real people but we cannot confirm that the original person who opened the account still has control and access to it.” In other words, they were requisitioned by a bot and possibly sold on. Don't ask how. 


Ok but how long has this been going on?

Years and years. Juan Guzman, a researcher at UCL who exposed hundreds of thousands of bots on social media, said Twitter had simply failed to tackle the problem. "It was only after Brexit and the 2016 election, where these bots became a liability and Twitter, as well as Facebook began taking them seriously." But he warned those botmakers are wily. "With breakthroughs like conversational AI, you'll see bots in the future being harder to detect."


Just curious but how much is it to buy a twitter follower?

They only come in hundreds - have a look here. Seems the going rate is about $8 for 1,200, up to $620 for 100,000. Cheap no?
 

But that's social media fraud!

That's business 



PS: Last week it was revealed that a 'Kremlin-linked troll farm' (srsly?) reportedly created 48 separate Twitter accounts before the 2016 election, pretending to be local US newspapers, sharing real local stories rather than fake news in order to gain trust.
True story. I think.