Spammers on Twitter are annoying. That’s why Twitter is thwarting one their most obnoxious tactics by further slashing the number of people you can follow per day from 1,000 to... 400.
Basically, the site says it’s trying to limit a practice called “follower churn,” or when an account will follow and then unfollow a large number of people to try and boost its own follower count. After all, who but bots and spammers would go around following 1,000 people a day?
Still, there are a few questions that need to be answered. Like, how is 400 people any less spam-tastic than 1,000? Four hundred is still a metric crap ton of accounts per day. Aside from the first day of setting up your account, there’s no reason why a normal user would follow that many people in a 24 hour period. Maybe promotion accounts, but uh, that’s what sponsored tweets are for. Gizmodo reached out to Twitter to clarify why it settled on 400—why not something equally arbitrary like 420 or 404?—but did not immediately receive a response.
According to Twitter’s Help Center, once you hit the follow limit you’ll get a message saying “You are unable to follow more people at this time.” However, that number doesn’t apply to Verified accounts. If you’ve got the blue check mark, you can still follow up to 1,000 accounts per day, ostensibly because the site knows you’re not a spammer. Likewise, Twitter also limits the total number of accounts you can follow to 5,000. At that point, the platform says you’ll have to beef up your own follower count (to an unspecified number) before you can follow any more accounts.
This is all nice, and part of Twitter’s larger effort to shift its reputation as a garbage, anxiety-inducing cesspool of a website. That includes tests to hide awful replies to tweets, author labels for longer conversations, and notifications that indicate when a reported tweet has violated Twitter’s rules. But maybe it’s better to give the people what they actually want. We’re still waiting on you to delete the Nazis (who CEO Jack Dorsey apparently hasn’t seen) and add an edit button.
Update, 04/09/2019, 12:47 pm: A Twitter spokesperson directed us to the following tweet thread by Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, on why it picked a daily 400 follower limit. Essentially, it’s the magic number that eliminates the most spam for normal users, without burdening businesses that need a slightly higher rate.