Ask a Twitter jock and you'd hear metrics like "engagement" and "quality". Dig deeper and it comes down to the crude number of follows. "Oh, she has just xyz follows (and they are bots), I have a thousand more" might be the predictable metric.
Enter bots, fake accounts and an entire industry of troll farms.
So, when Twitter Thursday cut down what it called "state-backed information operations" gloom descended on the types who start their morning checking follower count.
Twitter's explanation was blunt and didn't involve the thriving bot industry in India, but six other countries.
"We first published comprehensive, public archive of data related to state-backed information operations three years ago. We've made improvements, and iterated on our approach over time. Since that first disclosure in October 2018, we've shared 37 datasets of attributed platform manipulation campaigns originating from 17 countries, spanning more than 200 million Tweets and nine terabytes of media."
"Today, we're disclosing an additional 3,465 accounts to our archive of state-linked information operations - the only one of its kind in the industry."
"The account sets include eight distinct operations we've attributed to six countries - Mexico, the People's Republic of China, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Venezuela, respectively. Every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service."
While multiple publishers ranging from actor Anupam Kher (said he lost 80k) to bureaucrat Sonal Goel (5k and therefore aggregating 299k) posted about the "loss". Even Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal lost follows.
Early Friday (IST) some publishers said their follows were restored.