WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump suggested on Friday that Twitter Inc was biased against him and accused the social media company of deleting many of his followers and making it harder for users to follow him, without providing evidence.
It was the latest salvo by Trump against social media and technology companies such as Twitter, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google for what he has described as “silencing” conservative views on their services.
“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?” Trump tweeted.
Any reduction is likely the result of Twitter’s recent moves to remove millions of suspicious accounts after it and other social media services were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and other elections.
“Many prominent accounts have seen follower counts drop, but the result is higher confidence that the followers they have are real, engaged people,” Twitter spokesman Brandon Borrman said on Friday.
Trump lost 204,000, or 0.4 percent, of his 53.4 million followers in July when Twitter started its purge of suspicious accounts, according to social media data firm Keyhole.
Last week Twitter gave details of some 10 million tweets it had deleted in the belief they were the work of Russian and Iranian government-backed influence operations.
The account purge has benefited Twitter financially, as advertisers will pay more to connect with authentic users than automated accounts.
The company smashed Wall Street’s profit forecasts on Thursday, and said its “health” initiative to cull fake accounts will allow it to grow revenue faster over a sustained period.
Shares in Twitter posted their biggest one-day gain in a year on Thursday. They rose another 2.7 percent on Friday.
Earlier this week, Trump’s re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale in an opinion piece that tech companies such as Facebook and Google have become incubators of “far-left liberal ideologies” that are doing “everything they can to eradicate conservative ideas and their proponents from the internet.”
Parscale served as Trump’s digital director for his successful 2016 White House bid, which made significant use of social media.
Despite his attacks, Trump remains an avid user of Twitter, which has allowed him to communicate directly with people and bypass traditional media outlets.
Trump’s re-election team, however, is planning to circumvent such platforms for his 2020 bid, news website Politico reported this week, citing four officials involved in the campaign.
Reporting by Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Writing by Meredith Mazzilli; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Rigby
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