Several right-wing Twitter users shared their concern this week over discovering their own profiles had been suspended or a sizable portion of their followers had apparently disappeared overnight.
As Gizmodo reported, accounts of the supposed purge began to appear Wednesday morning.
Conservative radio host Bill Mitchell responded to another user’s inquiry about the news by confirming thousands of his followers had seemingly vanished.
Controversial white nationalist Richard Spencer tweeted that he “lost close to 1,000 followers” in the span of a few hours.
“Major purge underway,” he concluded, echoing the assumptions of others impacted by the unannounced change to the site.
The concern manifest itself in the form of a hashtag, #TwitterLockout, which gained traction on the platform throughout the day, according to Fox News.
One woman contacted Gizmodo to share her experience, claiming her account — @ThankUGOD4Trump — was locked on suspicion that it was being operated by a bot.
“They told me that my account ‘exhibited automated behavior’ and that I’d be sent a ‘verification code,’ which I’ve never received.”
She was reportedly able to regain access after following the steps prescribed by Twitter.
Another Trump supporter claimed she was caught up in the purge, too, though she began noticing her followers reappear “as they day goes on and they were able to confirm their accounts.”
Mitchell provided a similar update.
While Twitter did not announce its intention ahead of time or issue an immediate statement when complaints started pouring in Wednesday morning, the company did provide some details to Gizmodo later in the day.
The tools used to identify automated bots or other unauthorized behavior on the platform are “apolitical,” Twitter said, adding that the company enforces its rules “without political bias.”
The company shared a few characteristics its algorithms look for in flagging an account for possible misbehavior.
“As part of our ongoing work in safety, we identify suspicious account behaviors that indicate automated activity or violations of our policies around having multiple accounts, or abuse,” the statement read. “We also take action on any accounts we find that violate our terms of service, including asking account owners to confirm a phone number so we can confirm a human is behind it.”
It was those safeguards, Twitter said, that caused “suspensions or locks” on certain accounts.
“This is part of our ongoing, comprehensive efforts to make Twitter safer and healthier for everyone,” the company said.
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