By Sarah Gray
July 13, 2018

Twitter has been trying to clean house over the past several months — and this week President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama saw a dramatic drop in followers.

On Wednesday, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s legal, policy and trust & safety lead, announced in a blog post that the company would remove locked accounts from follower lists.

“Over the years, we’ve locked accounts when we detected sudden changes in account behavior,” Gadde wrote. “In these situations, we reach out to the owners of the accounts and unless they validate the account and reset their passwords, we keep them locked with no ability to log in. This week, we’ll be removing these locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally. As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down.”

Locked accounts differ from bots or spam, because they were started by real people — it’s just unclear if those people still have control over the account, due to changes in the account’s behavior.

The New York Times reported that among those who lost followers were the current and former commanders in chief. President Trump lost roughly 340,000 followers, and former President Obama lost around 3 million followers.

Snapshots from the internet archive, the Wayback Machine, confirm these losses. On Friday, Obama had 101 million followers, but on July 11, he had 104 million.

Obama's Twitter following July 13
Screenshot of Twitter
Obama's Twitter following July 11
Screenshot Twitter

As of this writing, President Trump had 53.1 million followers, but on July 11, he had 53.4 million, according to the Wayback Machine.

Trump's Twitter following July 13
Trump's Twitter following July 11
Screenshot Twitter

And while Obama lost more followers than Trump, he also started out with nearly double the follow count.

Both Obama and Trump are known for their — albeit very different — use of the social media platform. President Obama embraced social media during both of his campaigns and terms as president — and he was the first to tweet from the @POTUS account. President Trump has used the platform to make official statements, rant about news outlets, bully opponents, connect directly to his followers, and with a single tweet, caused a media firestorm.

Twitter has confirmed that between May and June the social media platform suspended around 70 million accounts (which led to a dip in the company’s share prices). Twitter has come under fire recently over Russia-linked automated accounts (bots) and their influence on the 2016 election. Earlier this year, Twitter said it found and removed roughly 50,000 Russia-linked accounts, according to reports in January, and information was turned over to congressional investigators.

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