Helen Zille.
  • Notorious South African tweeters Helen Zille and Julius Malema collectively lost roughly 50,000 followers in a purge by the platform. 
  • Twitter started to delete inactive accounts to restore confidence in the follower numbers of users.
  • Other South African celebrities such as Karabo Mokgoko and Anele Mdoda lost between 10,000 and 80,000 followers. 

South African politicians – and frequently controversial tweeters – Helen Zille and Julius Malema collectively lost roughly 50,000 followers this week in a Twitter purge.

Twitter started to delete inactive accounts to restore confidence in the follower numbers of users.  

According to social statistics website socialblade.com, Zille (@helenzille) lost 21,665 followers between Thursday and Friday and Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) 27,495

South African celebrities such as Karabo Mokgoko (@Karabo_Mokgoko) lost 84,887 followers, Anele Mdoda (@Anele) 12,569, and South African media personality Redi Tlhabi (@RediTlhabi) roughly 6,000.

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Parody Twitter account @AdvBarryRoux joked that “Twitter is working overtime on expropriating fake/inactive followers without compensation.” 

“South Africa should take notes on [how to] expropriation of Land without compensation.”  

International celebrities such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Barack Obama, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Ellen Degeneres, and Cristiano Ronaldo saw drops of more than 2 million followers each.

US president Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump), however, only lost 326,118 of his 53,061,706 followers

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In a blog post on Wednesday, Twitter said the culling of inactive Twitter accounts is being done to restore confidence in the follower numbers of users. 

Inactive Twitter accounts are locked accounts where suspicious activity was detected, and the user failed to reactivate the account. 

Twitter said the culling should not affect Twitter’s total active user number of roughly 330 million.  

“Most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop,” Twitter’s legal head Vijaya Gadde said. 

“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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