In a bid to curb spamming Twitter is introducing a new daily follow limit.

Twitter will remove all locked accounts from users follower numbers. Accounts are locked when Twitter detects “sudden changes in account behaviour.” This can happen when an account tweets large volumes of unsolicited replies or mentions. Or if the account posts misleading links. It can also happen if a large number of other accounts block one account.

Twitter will start to remove the locked accounts on Wednesday.  Users will see a drop in their follower counts.  They are taking the action to clamp down on “problematic accounts.”  This includes accounts that may have been hijacked to spread abuse or misinformation and propaganda.

Most users will see a change of “four followers or fewer”

But accounts with larger followings will experience a “more significant drop”, the company said.

Accounts can also be locked if the platform finds that someone’s login credentials have been leaked elsewhere, for example through a data breach at another service.

Twitter contacts the owners of such accounts and asks them to validate the account and reset their password. If the owner doesn’t comply, the account remains locked.

Vijaya Gadde, from Twitter’s trust and safety team, said in a blog post.

“In most cases, these accounts were created by real people, but we cannot confirm that the original person who opened the account still has control and access to it.”

“Follower counts are a visible feature, and we want everyone to have confidence that the numbers are meaningful and accurate.”

Twitter said these accounts were different from spam accounts, which typically exhibit spammy behaviour from the beginning and so are easier to identify.

One outspoken critic of what he calls “toxic” social media content, Unilever’s chief marketing officer Keith Weed, welcomed Twitter’s actions. 

He said:  “Our digital ecosystem is being polluted by a growing number of fake user accounts, so Twitter’s commitment to cleaning up the digital space should be welcomed wholeheartedly by everyone, from users of the platforms to creators and advertisers.”

“People having an artificially-inflated follower count made up of bots and redundant accounts is at best deceiving and at worst, fraud. It serves no one and undermines trust in the entire system.”

The crackdown is part of Twitter’s renewed effort to build trust and foster a more “healthy” conversation on the platform.

Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, pledged to tackle the rampant harassment, bots, misinformation and polarisation in a more strategic way.

“We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough,” Dorsey tweeted.

“We’ve focused most of our efforts on removing content against our terms, instead of building a systemic framework to help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking. This is the approach we need now.”