By Jerry Jordan, Editor
SPARTA, Ky. – The Great Twitter Purge of 2018 was unleashed on the social media world Thursday as millions of fake or hijacked accounts were eliminated, wreaking havoc on follower numbers for NASCAR teams, drivers and media.
Although not a complete list, most of the big teams in the sport lost several thousand followers that Twitter deemed to be fake. BK Racing was hit the hardest as they saw their account gutted by roughly 140,000 followers. Prior to the purge, BK Racing had 180,000 followers and now the account sits at 40,000. Roush Fenway Racing, which now has approximately 130,000 followers, saw its follower count drop by 94,500.
An attempt to obtain a comment from a team representative was unsuccessful.
Twitter explained the disappearing act as an “global effort to build trust and encourage healthy conversation” in a blog post by it’s Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead, Vijaya Gadde.
“Over the years, we’ve locked accounts when we detected sudden changes in account behavior,” Gadde stated, “in these situations, we reach out to the owners of the accounts and unless they validate the account and reset their passwords, we keep them locked with no ability to log in. This week, we’ll be removing these locked accounts from follower counts across profiles globally. As a result, the number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down.
“Our ongoing work to improve the health of conversations on Twitter encompasses all aspects of our service. This specific update is focused on followers because it is one of the most visible features on our service and often associated with account credibility.”
But BK Racing and RoushFenway Racing weren’t the only teams to see their follower number purged. Twitter axed 13,700 from the Hendrick Motorsports account – reducing its numbers from 739,700 to 726,000 followers. Stewart-Haas Racing lost 10,000 – dropping from 415,000 to 405,000 followers. Joe Gibbs Racing, which had 133,200 on Wednesday night was down to 130,000 by Thursday afternoon. Richard Childress Racing was hit with the loss of 3,700 followers, which dropped them from 120,700 to 117,000 followers.
Drivers weren’t immune from the purge. Just ask Denny Hamlin, who had 55,000 followers stripped from his Twitter account, while Brad Keselowski dropped by 26,300 followers. On Wednesday night Hamlin had 780,500 followers but less than 24-hours later his count had dropped to 725,000 and Keselowski went from 782,300 to 756,000 followers.
Three-time NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart, who retired from Cup Series racing in 2016, lost 15,500 followers. His count went from 707,500 to 692,000 followers.
“I am fine with the Internet being cleaned up,” said Mike Arning, Sr. Vice-President of True Speed Communications, which handles public relations for SHR and Tony Stewart.
Even members of the NASCAR media corps took a hit and lost some fake followers. It appears Jenna Fryer, who writes for the Associated Press, had the largest number drop at 3,300. However, the largest percentage drop came from the account of Jerry Jordan, editor at Kickin’ the Tires. Jordan lost 1,043 of his previous 6,657 followers.
Regardless the hits taken by the NASCAR community, no account had a bigger vanishing act than @Twitter, which lost 7.5 million followers. And the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, lost 200,000 followers from his personal account. News reports also pointed out that Katy Perry – the most followed account on Twitter – saw a decline of 1.5 million followers, President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was docked 325,000 followers and former President Barack Obama lost over 2.3 million fake followers on Twitter.
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||@DaleJr||2,470,000||2,470,000|
|Richard Childress Racing||@RCRracing||120,700||117,000|
|Joe Gibbs Racing||@JoeGibbsRacing||133,200||130,000|
|Roush Fenway Racing||@RoushFenway||224,700||130,000|
|Claire B. Lang||@ClairBLang||64,300||62,900|