- Several prominent conservatives and white supremacists on Twitter noticed they had lost thousands of followers on Wednesday morning.
- Claiming they were targeted because of their political views, they surfaced the hashtag #TwitterLockout.
- Twitter confirmed with Business Insider it had indeed suspended accounts, but said Twitter’s tools are “apolitical.”
Some prominent conservatives and white supremacists on Twitter lost thousands of followers Wednesday after Twitter purged its service of numerous automated “bot” accounts.
Claiming they were unfairly targeted for their political views – and that some legitimate Twitter users were locked out or suspended – conservative Twitter users started the hashtag #TwitterLockout, which was trending on Wednesday morning. Infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer joined the fray, tweeting that he lost close to 1,000 followers.
I've lost close to 1,000 followers offer the past few hours.
Major purge underway.
— Richard ???????????????????????????? Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) February 21, 2018
Twitter took away about 4,000 of my followers thinking they were bots. Well they are all coming back and even new people who never knew me before! Ha! Whatever you try to do to us MAGA people understand it only ends in our favor. I guess it’s only conservatives that bots follow????
— Kaya Jones (@KayaJones) February 21, 2018
I’m respectful of your time & I don’t ask for help that often,but I need your help now. @Twitter is discriminating against conservative voices & banned me,& many others,from posting ads while wiping out 1000s of followers.Please follow & spread the word. https://t.co/qwzNw0hDtu
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) February 21, 2018
Twitter confirmed with Business Insider that it had indeed suspended bot accounts, but denied the move was politically motivated.
The suspected purge comes a day after Vanity Fair published a story in which former Twitter employees excoriated the company for how it handles bots, spam, and abuse on the platform. They claimed the company never had a consistent policy for dealing with how bots abuse Twitter. It also comes in the wake of U.S. Special Council Robert Mueller’s indictment of the Internet Research Agency, an Russian organisation that used bots to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
Twitter has suspended large numbers of bots in the past, including last month in response to a New York Times story detailing how celebrities buy bots to boost their numbers of followers.