A million accounts gone and a journalist suspended after fake follower exposé

Twitter wiped out over a million fake followers after an NYT report

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

It looks like Twitter is acting on the NYT fake followers exposé:

More than a million followers have disappeared from the accounts of dozens of prominent Twitter users in recent days as the company faces growing criticism over the proliferation of fake accounts and scrutiny from federal and state inquiries into the shadowy firms that sell fake followers.

A purge of fake followers, then – and quickly enough that Twitter almost certainly could have done this earlier. It does rather suggest that Twitter could be coming down harder on this routinely, but its stagnating growth is discouraging it from doing so…

Journalist’s fake followers being investigated

Even more interestingly, the Chicago Sun Times has effectively suspended one of its journalists, after he was implicated in buying fake followers:

In a statement issued Monday, Sun-Times Editor-in-Chief Chris Fusco said: “We became aware over the weekend of issues relating to Rich Roeper’s Twitter account. We’re investigating these issues. We will not be publishing any reviews or columns by Rich until this investigation is complete.”

It’s been an article of faith in digital journalism circles that a substantial social media following is a desirable thing in a new hire, because they bring their own audience with them. This is the inevitable flip side of that – you fake that following, and you’re essentially deceiving your employer.

This is some much-needed sunlight being shone into the darker corners of social media brand building.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.