Twitter fakers, the signs are not looking good for your future on the platform.
In its latest efforts to rid its platform of bots, fake profiles and general misuse, the micro-blog giant has banned prominent anti-Trump personalities Brian and Ed Krassenstein, over their alleged use of fake accounts and purchased interactions to boost their presence and reach.
As reported by The Daily Beast:
"The suspensions are a major loss for the Krassensteins, who had used their massive Twitter followers and ability to quickly respond to tweets from Donald Trump to make themselves internet celebrities. Ed Krassenstein had roughly 925,000 followers before he was banned, while Brian Krassenstein had more than 697,000."
In the wake of the 2016 US Presidential Election, Twitter has been putting more emphasis on seeking out and removing fakes and fake sellers.
Last year, Twitter caused a minor stir when it announced that it was removing inactive accounts from follower totals, which resulted in many big-name celebrities, among others, taking a hit to their audience numbers.
Twitter followed that up with a push to remove accounts which had previously attempted to evade account suspension, which saw a significant increase in account removals, relative to additions.
Indeed, Twitter noted in its Q4 2018 performance update that its loss in monthly active users (-9m year-over-year at that stage) could largely be attributed to its 'health' efforts - i.e. "removing spammy and suspicious accounts." Twitter's MAU reduction actually underlined why social platforms may not have pushed too hard on this front previously, because while there have been fakes present in their totals, their overall numbers looked better. And if those fakes were relatively harmless, they actually provided business benefit.
The problem, as we've since seen underlined, is that they're not harmless - people can use fake accounts and engagement to amplify their messaging, which is an even more viable option now that Twitter uses an algorithm to boost the exposure of more prominent, engaging tweets. It's almost impossible to stop spammers outright, but if Twitter can limit political manipulation, that's a positive focal point to begin from.
Twitter has previously banned prominent right-wing commentators under its hate speech policies, while it's also implemented reach restrictions on 'anti-social' tweets. Ideally, by making an example of misuse in this way, Twitter will be able to make such processes too risky, as the damage to a users' credibility can be difficult to recover from after they're caught out.
The more than can be done to remove the fakers, the better - which, hopefully, will eventually extend to those looking to market themselves as 'influencers' based on artificially inflated follower counts.
If that's you, it may be time to stop. Twitter looks to be taking this more and more seriously, and as the crackdown continues, you're running a significant risk if you're not being genuine on the platform.