The aftershock of the New York Times’ Follower Factory exposé on influencer marketing fraud continues to inspire change in the fight against fake followers. Just yesterday, Twitter announced it will remove tens of millions of fake or suspicious accounts from the platform. This purge decreased the total follower count of Twitter users by about 6 percent– a notable reduction considering Twitter hosts more than 327M active users each month.
Not surprisingly, celebrities and top-tier influencers were impacted the most by this move. Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Rihanna, and even Donald Trump collectively lost more than 6.5 million followers on Thursday.
This is not the first time Twitter has taken action against fake followers and automated engagement, but it is the first time they have removed suspended accounts from the follower count of other users.
Twitter’s Legal, Policy, and Trust & Safety Lead, Vijaya Gadde noted that while this change “may be hard for some, we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation.”
Twitter’s announcement comes on the heels of Unilever CMO Keith Weed’s call for greater transparency and accountability in the influencer marketing space at Cannes in June. Weed’s decree was one of the first public declarations from a major CPG brand that they would not work with influencers who had built even a portion of their followings through fraudulent means.
As a long-time advocate for accountable influencer marketing, Linqia applauds Twitter for taking a firm stand against fake followers and bot-driven engagements. Our business was founded on the premise that true influence can only be realized when a real human takes an action because of an influencer’s content.
The influx of fake followers and fraud-based activity across social platforms have made it challenging for brands to navigate the influencer marketing landscape in good faith. We hope that this news signals an important shift in the way marketers will measure the value of influencer marketing in the coming months.
The future of influencer marketing is accountability. We have always, and will always, place measurable and impactful results at the forefront of our business. It’s time for brands to follow Unilever’s lead and re-examine how they select their influencer partners, demanding real human engagement from their investments.