Conservatives, others claim Twitter removed thousands of followers

The drop could be due to many users voluntarily leaving Twitter for Parler, as well

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A number of conservative and celebrity Twitter accounts reported losing thousands of followers after the platform permanently suspended President Trump Friday night.

"Fox & Friends" co-host Pete Hegseth on Saturday described it as "something of a purge" that might have taken place, as thousands of users disappeared from the platform. Hegseth also suggested that the move might have come after the Georgia Senate runoff results earlier this week, not just after Trump's account was permanenty suspended.

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The exact reason for the shift in users is not known, but it could be that users have voluntarily left the platform along with the president. Fox News reached out to Twitter for comment on the drop in users and was referred to their support page. A follow-up request was not yet returned.

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More conservative celebrity users, such as actor James Woods, noticed a big drop in followers almost immediately.

"Twitter, the 'public forum' for free speech, has deleted 15,000 followers from my account in the last few hours," Woods claimed, saying the platform no longer served its original purpose.

He later said Twitter removed 137,000 followers in two days.

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Fox Business host Charles Payne tweeted it was "a heck of haircut of followers," with Podcaster Dave Rubin claiming to have lost 7,000 followers over two days.

Overnight, "Goodbye Twitter" trended for a number of hours, peaking early Saturday with more than 86,000 tweets -- all related to users announcing or discussing a move to competing social media platform Parler.

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Fox News contributor Dan Bongino tweeted his last tweet on Friday, saying he would move to Parler. He also posted on Instagram that Twitter had blocked his account for making a statement by President Trump.

"Goodbye Twitter friends. See you @parler," said one Twitter user, citing a more pro-free speech social media alternative to Twitter that is popular with conservatives.

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Parler crashed shortly after the president was permanently suspended, according to The New York Post. Google has subsequently removed the Parler app from its app store, and Apple has threatened to do the same.

Google claimed that it removed the app due to violent messages posted to the Parler platform -- the same reason Twitter moved to initially suspend Trump's account. 

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The drop in Twitter users could also be related to an actual purge by the tech giant related to "unverified" accounts.

"In order to prevent spam, we regularly challenge accounts to confirm details like email and phone number," Twitter says on its support page. "Until that info is confirmed, these accounts aren’t included in follower counts."