Donald Trump has, once again, baselessly claimed that Twitter is suppressing his follower count because of political bias, apparently after watching a Fox Business report about Twitter’s recent earnings call.
This morning, Trump tweeted, “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join — they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?”
Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join - they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2018
As Media Matters for America fellow Matthew Gertz pointed out, Trump’s tweet came shortly after Fox Business started discussing Twitter’s quarterly earnings report. The report revealed that Twitter lost 9 million accounts last quarter, following a loss of 1 million the previous quarter. Twitter says these huge losses are due to a mass deletion of automated and spam accounts. Essentially, this would mean that it’s been overcounting its user numbers for years and is now attempting to course-correct.
A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge that “our focus is on the health of the service, and that includes work to remove fake accounts to prevent malicious behavior. Many prominent accounts have seen follower counts drop, but the result is higher confidence that the followers they have are real, engaged people.”
Trump has previously accused Twitter (among other platforms) of mass-deleting real conservative users’ accounts and suppressing his follower count. However, Washington Post journalist Brian Fung checked Trump’s claim of losing “many people” and found that his follower count has actually increased over the course of October.
As for the claims that Twitter is “much harder to join,” Twitter did start requiring new users to confirm either an email address or phone number in June — something Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey touted yesterday as an anti-spam measure. It’s not a huge hurdle for most people, unless they’re creating large numbers of accounts with burner email addresses. It also started happening months ago, along with the purges.
Ironically, the Twitter earnings writeup on Fox Business’ site is quite positive. It describes Twitter’s stock as “surging” and noted that the company made money even with fewer users; in fact, this marks the first full year that Twitter has turned a profit. By comparison, Twitter was in rough shape earlier this year, suffering a major stock drop after its summer earnings report, so it wasn’t even that much of a “Rocket Ship.”