Twitter has been accused of lying after admitting to banning over 70,000 accounts, despite claiming on Friday that fluctuating follower counts was completely normal.
Twitter announced on Monday evening that following the protests on Capitol Hill, the social media platform had banned more than 70,000 accounts from its site, which it claimed were “engaged in sharing harmful QAnon-associated content at scale and were primarily dedicated to the propagation of this conspiracy theory across the service.”
In the statement, Twitter said that they will take “strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm,” and that “given the violent events in Washington, DC, and increased risk of harm,” the mass bans had to take place. The statement added that the account purge began on Friday:
Our updated enforcement on QAnon content on Twitter, along with routine spam challenges, has resulted in changes in follower count for some people’s Twitter accounts. In some cases, these actions may have resulted in follower count changes in the thousands…
As always, while accounts are undergoing these challenges, they’re temporarily removed from follower counts. This, along with our updated enforcement around coordinated harmful activity, means some people may notice drops or fluctuations in their follower count.
We're keeping you informed of all the steps we're taking to protect the public conversation. We’ve summarized our recent enforcement actions and what you can expect from us moving forward. https://t.co/TCfrQMo6lJ
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 12, 2021
Unsurprisingly, when Twitter started intitiating the mass bans on Friday, many conservatives across the platform noted that their follower counts dropped, with many losing thousands of followers. However, in a statement at the time, Twitter Support informed users that the “fluctuations in follower counts” was purely down to challenging accounts suspected of spam, despite knowing the mass bans had already started.
To clear up confusion about fluctuations in follower counts:
In order to prevent spam, we regularly challenge accounts to confirm details like email and phone number. Until that info is confirmed, these accounts aren’t included in follower counts. https://t.co/8BYcBCmxxA
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 9, 2021
Following the release of the statement on Monday, some drew the connections between Twitter’s Friday statement, and accused the Big Tech company of flat-out lying to the faces of their users.
Why lie two days ago? pic.twitter.com/KmcyuRiH3l
— LB (@beyondreasdoubt) January 12, 2021
Twitter and Facebook are about as transparent as a brick wall. https://t.co/Xm6QIJzb1M
— Chris Pandolfo (@ChrisCPandolfo) January 12, 2021
They’re lying now even. 70,000 is low by a factor of 10 if I’m guessing on the most conservative hedge. It’s probably more like a factor of 20 or 30. https://t.co/cWBGAQOFFY
— Geoffrey Ingersoll (@GPIngersoll) January 12, 2021
The mass ban of the accounts follows the permanent suspension of President Trump by Twitter, with many other Big Tech sites like Facebook and Instagram temporarily suspending his accounts until at least after the inauguration on January 20th.
National File reached out to Twitter, inquiring as to whether the company meant to put out the potentially severely misleading statement, but did not receive a response by the time of publication. It is also unclear as to whether the accounts targeted the purge were actually QAnon accounts, as Twitter claimed.