By Casey Quackenbush
July 13, 2018

From former President Barack Obama to Justin Bieber, the internet’s biggest social media influencers lost millions of Twitter followers Thursday as the platform began a massive purge of suspicious accounts.

By cracking down on fake accounts, Twitter hopes to restore faith in the controversy-ridden platform where influence—from entertainment to politics—can be inflated by automated or fake followers, the New York Times reports. Twitter said it expects the initiative to reduce the total follower count on the platform by a significant 6%, the Times reports.

Across the board, Twitter’s most followed celebrities felt a cut on Thursday. Katy Perry, the most followed person on Twitter, lost at least 1.5 million followers, leaving her leaving her at 107 million followers, Variety reports. Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, lost about 2 million each, leaving them at 104 million and 83.2 million respectively. Rihanna, Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga, also all lost about 2 million followers.

“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,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, wrote in a blog post.

Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal also lost about a million from his 15.3 million followers, and Oprah lost about 1.4 million followers, the Times reports.

Politicians felt the slash too. Barack Obama lost over 2 million followers from his previous 103.63 million, leaving him at 101 million, while President Donald Trump lost 340,000 followers, taking him from 53.4 million to 53.1 million.

Twitter’s primary account seems to have taken the greatest hit, dropping from 62.85 million to 55.35 million followers on Thursday — a drop of 12%.

Meanwhile, most regular accounts may see a cut of about three or four followers, according to the company.

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