Trump Accuses Twitter of Political Bias

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump accused Twitter Inc. of targeting his followers for removal from the social media platform, amid complaints by conservatives that social media companies have been discriminating against right-wing voices.

“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,” Trump said in a tweet Friday. “A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?”

Twitter’s corporate communications staff responded to Trump with a message suggesting that followers were deleted as part of an effort to remove fake, abusive and malicious accounts.

“Our focus is on the health of the service, and that includes work to remove fake accounts to prevent malicious behavior,” the company said in a tweet. “Many prominent accounts have seen follower counts drop, but the result is higher confidence that the followers they have are real, engaged people.”

Trump and some other Republicans have complained that Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter have censored or suppressed conservative voices. Democrats have called that a diversion from concern over Russia’s use of social-media platforms to influence the 2016 presidential election and over the proliferation of offensive content.

In his opening remarks during a meeting with state attorneys general in September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions raised concerns that social media companies have a political agenda and have the power to manipulate public opinion, according to Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

Abusive Content

Twitter began removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers in July. The purge was an effort to help rid the site of a widespread form of social media fraud that made it possible for users to bolster their social influence, political activism or entertainment careers by inflating their followers on social media with fake accounts.

Twitter said at the time that accounts with a large number of followers would see a more significant drop. Trump, one of the social-media company’s most visible tweeters, lost about 300,000 followers, or more than half of one percent after amassing a high of 53.4 million. He has about 55.3 million followers today.

Trump wasn’t the only high-profile tweeter affected by the purge. Jack Dorsey, the company’s chief executive officer, said he lost about 200,000 followers as a result of the crackdown.

Dorsey told lawmakers in September that the company wasn’t biased and that there were technical explanations for each example that Republicans had raised to press their case of political bias.

Twitter reported Thursday that average monthly active users drop by 9 million to 326 million. The company said those trends will continue and lead to another decline in monthly users for the fourth quarter. But the San Francisco-based company’s stock jumped the most in eight months following the statement, which also showed third-quarter earnings and revenue topped estimates amid higher spending from advertisers.

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