Back in January, the New York Times took a deep dive into an obscure company called Devumi, which sells Twitter followers — fake ones, though some contain the personal details of real Twitter users — to users who want to pad their social-media statistics. The Times found that numerous celebrities had utilized Devumi’s services, including former NFL player Ray Lewis and former ESPN reporter Britt McHenry.
Fast forward to this week, when Twitter began purging fake accounts in an attempt to rid itself of some of its more unsavory qualities — trolling, spam, etc. — and make its metrics a little more realistic. President Trump lost a bunch of followers, as did former president Barack Obama.
As one would expect after reading the Times report, so did Lewis, who once boasted more than 700,000 followers.
Since the above tweet was published on Thursday evening, Lewis’s follower count has dropped further to 363,000. Basically, he’s lost half his Twitter followers in the purge.
McHenry saw a similar drop this week, going from around 362,800 followers to 223,300 Thursday evening. She’s now at 223,000, a 38.5 percent reduction.
When the Times story was published, McHenry had 506,478 followers, meaning she’s lost nearly 56 percent of her Twitter followers since January. That’s almost the same percentage as ESPN college football analyst Joey Galloway, who had 43,700 Twitter followers on Friday morning, down from 99,247 when the Times story published.
According to Time, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal lost about 1 million of his 15.3 million followers, but that only amounts to 6.5 percent. O’Neal was not named in the New York Times story.
“Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop,” Vijaya Gadde, who heads up Twitter’s Legal, Policy, Trust and Safety department, wrote in a blog post discussing the purge. “We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.”
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