Twitter lockdown: Far-right accounts claim site is quietly removing their followers

It's likely that the reduction is the consequence of Twitter clearing out bots and other problem accounts

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 21 February 2018 12:12 GMT
The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017
The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017 (REUTERS/Thomas White)

Numerous far-right and white supremacist accounts claim they are being secretly censored on Twitter.

The accounts are complaining about a "Twitter lockdown" or "purge", where people are using hundreds of followers. But the effort doesn't actually appear to be part of a programme of censorship – instead a result of the site's attempt to reduce the number of fake accounts and bots on the site.

As such, the purge is actually affecting a range of different sites. But far-right accounts in particular are claiming that the lockdown is part of a political crackdown on the site.

Richard Spencer, the white supremacist personality, claimed that Twitter was "purging" his followers.

"I've lost close to 1,000 followers offer the past few hours," he wrote on Twitter. "Major purge underway."

Numerous users said the removals were a consequence of the fact that Twitter, which they believe to be liberal, was attempting to reduce their reach. "The war on Conservatives is real," posted one in a representative tweet.

A number of liberal accounts also suggested that the crackdown was part of Twitter's attempt to limit the influence of Russian disinformation activity by banning bot accounts. That also seems to be wrong, since the purge isn't only affecting Trump-supporting accounts and it's not possible to know where the purged followers are located.

Some users have reported that the numbers have experienced rapid drops, which have then recovered as followers have logged in and made clear their accounts are real.

Twitter has a long-running problem with bots and other problem accounts, which can artificially inflate people's follower counts but aren't actually owned by anyone. When those accounts are removed, it can lead to drastic reductions in the number of followers each account has – the same thing has happened at Facebook and Instagram, where users have lost millions of fans because of such clearouts.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in