How has the Twitter 'purge' affected Israelis?

One thing is for sure: If Twitter continues to delete fake, spam or robot accounts, these numbers are likely to keep dropping.

July 26, 2018 17:13
3 minute read.
How has the Twitter 'purge' affected Israelis?

Benjamin Netanyahu at a weekly cabinet meeting, June 3, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Over the past 30 days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost close to 30,000 Twitter followers.

Was it something he said? Not exactly.

Since Twitter announced earlier this month that it would be deleting millions of fake accounts, many prominent users have lost tens of thousands – or even millions – of followers. So how did the most Twitter-famous Israelis fare?

The most popular Israeli on Twitter – superstar Gal Gadot – came out of it pretty well. Since the Twitter purge began, Gadot lost around 12,000 followers, a drop in the bucket of her almost 2 million Twitter fans. In fact, over the past 30 days, Gadot ended up with a net gain of 20,000 followers despite the culling.

Netanyahu, the second-most popular Israeli on Twitter, saw more of a hit, but still not a serious one. The prime minister dropped more than 28,000 followers in the past month, around 2% of his 1.3 million followers.

Supermodel Bar Refaeli, who uses her Twitter account almost exclusively to link to Instagram photos, lost close to 37,000 followers in the past 30 days; almost 4% of her more than one million Twitter fans.

Another Israeli with a significant social media following is comedian Guri Alfi, who dropped more than 17,000 followers in the past 30 days; just over 4% of his more than 400,000 fans.

When Twitter announced the move earlier this month, it noted that “most people will see a change of four followers or fewer; others with larger follower counts will experience a more significant drop.” The reason for the decision, it said, was so people can “have confidence that the numbers [of followers] are meaningful and accurate.”

Where do all these fake accounts come from? There are many companies that sell fake followers to those who want to increase their numbers. But robot accounts can follow anyone they choose, and often follow a wide variety of people in an effort to look more realistic. Fake accounts also exist for many reasons aside from inflating follower counts, and it’s impossible to be sure of their purpose. Twitter’s recent purge is also far from exhaustive; it noted that it specifically targeted accounts the social media giant locked due to suspicious activity.

Several media reports estimate that close to 15% of all Twitter accounts are likely fake. In an article on earlier this year, the co-founder of says it believes 40-60% of all accounts could be bots.

Globally, many particularly popular accounts saw significant recent drops. Former US president Barack Obama lost close to 2.4 million followers in the span of one day earlier this month, though he still has more than 100 million Twitter fans. President Donald Trump, a particularly active user on the platform, saw his follower count drop around 400,000 people, though he still gained overall in the past 30 days, and stands at more than 53 million.

Oprah Winfrey lost around 1.5 million, while Katy Perry dropped close to 3 million, and Justin Bieber saw a loss of around 2.7 million followers.

In Israel, the majority of popular Twitter accounts belong to journalists and politicians. The most followed after Netanyahu is Channel 2’s Amit Segal, who saw a drop of close to 17,000 in the past 30 days, more than 4% of his followers. Channel Ten’s Alon Ben-David lost more than 10,000 followers, while the network’s Raviv Drucker dropped just under 10,000.

The Zionist Union’s Shelly Yacimovich saw close to 9,000 followers disappear in the past month and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett lost just over 8,000 in the same period.

One thing is for sure: If Twitter continues to delete fake, spam or robot accounts, these numbers are likely to keep dropping.

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