×
July 11, 2018

If your Twitter followers start going missing on Thursday, it probably wasn't because of a bad tweet.

Twitter will purge tens of millions of fake or suspicious accounts starting Thursday, The New York Times reports. The move comes in the wake of a January Times investigation into a follower farm, which Twitter executives say inspired the company to crack down on fake accounts.

Since follower counts lead to influence in the real world, aspiring influencers, businesspeople, and politicians often purchased followers en masse, the Times says. Advertisers who sponsored posts with these supposedly influential users soon realized not every follower was a real person, and they weren't reaching the numbers they were paying for. Meanwhile, real followers' influence was watered down by bots and phony accounts.

So when the Times' January investigation exposed the creation of and business behind these fake accounts, Twitter finally took action. It started by locking millions of accounts suspected to be automated, racking up millions of suspensions by May. These locked accounts, which can't interact with other accounts, weren't counted in Twitter's active user numbers reported to investors. But they still showed up in follower counts, per the Times.

Now, Twitter has reached the next step. It'll remove suspicious users from follower counts, but not completely erase the accounts. Twitter told the Times it plans to remove about 6 percent of the site's total combined followers — a number that could be in the tens of millions.

Read more about Twitter's big step at The New York Times, and check out the investigation that inspired it here. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:11 p.m.

There could soon be signs pointing to Trumptown, Donnieville, or MAGAland in the Golan Heights.

President Trump has been slapping his name on buildings, hotels, steaks, water bottles, defunct airlines, and non-accredited universities for decades, but finally, someone else is doing the work for him. On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he wants to name a new settlement in the Golan after Trump, as a way of thanking him for reversing U.S. policy toward the region.

Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. This move was widely condemned, and most of the international community does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the area. Trump tweeted in March that he feels differently, and it's "time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's Sovereignty over the Golan Heights."

There are more than 30 Israeli settlements in the Golan, which are considered illegal under international law. Netanyahu said "all Israelis were deeply moved when President Trump made his historic decision," and after the Passover holiday, he will bring a resolution to the government calling for a new community to be named after Trump. Catherine Garcia

6:47 p.m.

While on patrol in a remote area near Clint, Texas, earlier this month, two U.S. troops were confronted by Mexican soldiers, who thought the service members had crossed the southern border and were in Mexico, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The troops were stationed at the border as part of President Trump's plan to stop undocumented migrants from crossing into the United States. In a statement, U.S. Northern Command told The Associated Press that the incident occurred on April 13, taking place on a piece of U.S. territory south of the border wall but north of the actual border. Newsweek reports that the U.S. troops were in an unmarked car when Mexican soldiers approached them. They were searched, and one of the Americans reportedly had his gun removed from his hip and thrown inside the car.

Northern Command told AP there was a "brief discussion" between the soldiers, and then the Mexican troops left. "The U.S. soldiers immediately contacted [U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement], who responded quickly," Northern Command said in a statement. "Throughout the incident, the U.S. soldiers followed all established procedures and protocols." An investigation is now underway. Catherine Garcia

5:43 p.m.

President Trump kicked off his day complaining about Twitter, and finished it meeting with its CEO.

It wasn't on his schedule for the day, but Trump met with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey on Tuesday for a private, 30-minute meeting in the Oval Office. There's not much information on what the two discussed, but a Twitter spokesperson mysteriously told Axios that the meeting revolved around "Twitter's commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis."

Vice News reported Tuesday that Dorsey was headed for the meeting, publishing an internal email Dorsey sent to Twitter employees earlier in the day. "Some of you might feel we shouldn't take this meeting at all," Dorsey wrote in the email, but he countered that sentiment, adding that "I have met with every world leader who has extended an invitation to me."

On Tuesday morning, Trump used Twitter to air some grievances about the site, saying it doesn't "treat me well as a Republican." Trump cryptically added that Twitter is "constantly taking people off list" and called for Congress to "get involved," though it's unclear who any of these people are or what this list even means. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:10 p.m.

The stock market has completed its comeback.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite closed at record highs on Tuesday, The Associated Press reports. The former rose 0.9 percent, with the new peak — which surpassed a mark set in September 2018 — coming just months after the markets rapidly plunged on Christmas Eve last year and making up all the lost ground. The Nasdaq climbed 1.3 percent to shatter its previous high set in August 2018. Both markets were coming off long stretches without a record, after bottoming out down nearly 20% at the end of the year.

Stocks have reportedly flourished this year thanks to what The Wall Street Journal writes is a more "accommodative" Federal Reserve. The central bank said earlier this year it was unlikely to raise interest rates, which encouraged investors to take greater risks. The rise was also spurred by a more general confidence in the U.S. economy, per AP.

Overall, on the year, the S&P is up 17 percent, its best start to the year since 1987, per the Journal, while the Nasdaq is up 22 percent, a number it hasn't seen since 1991. Tim O'Donnell

4:56 p.m.

Buda, Texas, is a quaint, fast-growing suburb of Austin, known for its annual wiener dog races and county fair. But deep in the heart of Texas, behind the walls of a pretty little yellow ranch-style house, is the stuff of minimalist nightmares:

First uncovered on Twitter by author Brooke Bolander, the house is for sale on Redfin and asking $435,000. It is described in the listing as a "one of a kind" home with "lots of great features," which is not a lie. I mean, the batting cage in the backyard is unexpected, plus there is a "historical Texans burial plot in the front yard," and who doesn't want that?

Browse all 30 photos here and keep in mind, you lucky dogs, that the "furniture is negotiable." Jeva Lange

4:07 p.m.

New research has found that transgender Americans are more likely to have health risks and a poor quality of life. The study, published on Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, examined data from 3,075 transgender adults and compared it to data from 719,657 cisgender adults.

Analysis of this data revealed that transgender people are less likely to have health insurance than cisgender people, those who are not transgender. In addition, they are 66 percent more likely to have experienced "severe mental distress," NBC News explained. Trans survey participants were also more inclined to unhealthy habits such as a sedentary lifestyle or smoking.

The survey that collected the study's data was administered from 2014 to 2017, a period when "attitudes shifted" and transgender people may have gotten worse, said Kellan Baker, the study's author and a researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

"This study shows that being a transgender person in the U.S. today — being transgender in a society that you know doesn't fully accept you — is hard," Baker told NBC News in an email.

Xiang Cai, a researcher at Columbia University who wasn't involved in the study, said that the study's conclusions reflect "multiple levels of transgender-specific stigmas." But trans people are still "capable and resilient," Cai added, saying that gender-affirming surgeries for trans people can lead to higher quality of life. Read more at NBC News. Shivani Ishwar

3:28 p.m.

Goats are having their greatest moment of all time — or at least the last 10 years.

Dairy goats, while far from the most popular American livestock out there, saw their populations grow by 61 percent from 2007 to 2017, according to the USDA's newly released 2017 Census of Agriculture. Meanwhile, dairy cows only saw a three percent growth in America, and the goat boom may have something to do with it, analysis from The Washington Post has found.

Across the U.S., the dairy goat population went up from 334,754 animals in 2007 to 537,799 in 2017, per the census. That's largely thanks to the dairy state of Wisconsin, where 47,203 goats joined the herd.

Dairy cows, on the other hoof, haven't fared so well. Their miniscule growth was largely confined to Texas, Michigan, and Idaho, likely reflecting the rise of dairy-free milk alternatives, and how the average American drinks about 12 fewer gallons of milk per year than they did in the 1970s, the Post notes. Meanwhile, llamas, despite their growing appearances on decor at T.J. Maxx stores, saw their ranks drop nearly 70 percent from 2007 to 2017, per the census.

Read more about dairy goats' moment at The Washington Post, or find the whole USDA Census of Agriculture here. Kathryn Krawczyk

See More Speed Reads