It wasn’t quite a Thanos-level extinction event, but the Twitter purge came, it took, and it conquered.
On Thursday, Twitter commenced the deletion of accounts it deemed “inactive.” That means accounts owned by people who’ve stopped using the platform and didn’t bother to try to reactivate when Twitter sent them a message asking what’s up, and bots that Twitter flagged for exhibiting erratic behavior who didn’t answer that same “what’s up?” email — because the accounts don’t actually belong to real people.
Bots have been a consistent problem on Twitter, since they’re used to artificially amplify messages and follower accounts. They’ve also contributed to the divisive and combative environment on the platform, not only making the experience worse, but also impacting the real world by way of, oh, the US presidential election.
The purge is Twitter’s attempt to “increase trust.” Read: Twitter wants to stop robots (though people are OK!) from manipulating the platform for spammy, troll-y, and even nefarious purposes, so critics and members of Congress will stop accusing the company of being complicit in the manipulation of our democracy.
So, we purge!
The evening before the purge took effect, Mashable logged the follower counts of some notable Tweeters. We’ve got your politicians, your pundits, your influencers, your celebs, and more.
The method for choosing who to monitor, of course, was Extremely Scientific — by which we mean it was not scientific at all.
We chose some people just because they’re influential and have a lot of followers (like Katy Perry). We chose others because we’ve noticed them exhibiting some shady follow-for-follow behavior, and thought their accounts would fall pray to the purge (hi, Taye Diggs). We picked some accounts because they’re involved in the fake news/conspiracy theory machine that thrives on Twitter, and we wondered whether bots were helping to amplify their voices (Alex Jones, u up?). And we chose others, well, for the LOLs.
All in all, we ranked just over 50 accounts. Here are the Mashable winners and losers of the Twitter purge.
1. Biggest winner: Twitter!
With a loss of more than 12 percent of its followers, Twitter really took the purge as the chance to Marie Kondo its life. Congrats, Twitter, on only keeping the followers that bring you joy.
2. Other biggest winners: Apple and Sarah Huckabee Sanders
What do your favorite tech company and the mouthpiece of the president have in common? Neither lost enough followers to register any change in their rounded follower counts! Hooray?
3. Biggest losers: C-list/past their prime celebs/Taye Diggs
Tyrese, Amanda Bynes, and Lindsay Lohan all lost considerably more followers than their closest competitors. But hey, that comes as no surprise. Special kudos to Tyrese, who lost nearly 8 percent of his followers. Get it, Ty!
Until today, Taye Diggs had around 670K followers, almost the same count as the number of people he follows — a sure sign that something sketchy is going on. He lost more than 4 percent of his followers. Better get back to that follow-for-follow action!
4. Taking a moderate L: Khloe Kardashian
(Please forgive that Barack Obama is nestled among the Kardashians. It’s not a bad place to be.)
Khloe’s Twitter following is less than half the size of her sister Kim’s, but she lost .2 percent more followers than big sis. Someone was just as thirsty for fame on Twitter as she is IRL!
Here’s how all the Kardashians stack up.
5. Taking an “It doesn’t matter because Donald Trump is still our president” W: Hillary Clinton
Just .43 percent of Hil-dog’s followers were bots — only SHS, Apple, and … Logan Paul … did better.
The Group Stages
We broke down the Twitter users we monitored into seven groups.
Celebs: a handful of celebrities, some super influential, some exhibiting shady social media behavior
First Family: past and present!
Flunkies: politicians from both parties
Influencers: fitness gurus, YouTubers, and fashion bloggers
(members of the) International Players Club: prominent figures outside of the US
Pundits: political commentators and outlets, mostly conservative (since we were testing for conspiracy theorists — we see you, Alex Jones)
Tech Companies: some of the big ones
Biggest loser (by percentage): Tech companies
Twitter basically guaranteed the L on this one.
Biggest winner (by percentage): IPC
People really love Pope Francis and Brexit.
And, finally, here are the Top 25 biggest losers. You can see the rest of our extremely scientific standings here.