16622 friends disappeared overnight? Impossible



Last night I had 19,297 followers and 16,622 friends (following)

This morning, I saw my account was locked. That confused me, but I unlocked it.

Then I see that I am down to 18,148 followers and ZERO friends???

My personal app is not write restricted so it didn’t come from me. If I accidently tried to unfriend 16000+ people I’d be write restricted before I got anywhere near the end.

If I go directly to a known friend’s profile I see I the mutual follow.

What gives?

My profile shows 18.2K followers with no mention of friends

users/show returns [followers_count] => 18150 [friends_count] => 0

The account locked between 02:47 and 03:06 this morning (EST)

UPDATE 13:30 EST: Friends on profile at 2296, users/show no change
UPDATE 14:55 EST: Seems everything is back to normal, except for some 750 - 900 or so people who apparently unfollowed me after I “Unfollowed” them. Nice. Remind me again why I promote Twitter so much?


As you’re aware, this is a developer forum and we’re not able to assist with account and product questions.

In this case it sounds like on the backend, there was a delayed re-sync of some account information that led to this scenario. There’s no specific guarantee that data will remain accurate at all times because Twitter is a distributed system (as described here). Apologies for any confusion, but I’m also glad to hear that this is resolved for you.


Actually, Andy, I think this is a developers’ issue, especially considering that the account was locked again this morning. And, again, all friends are gone. It is exactly like yesterday.

It must be either a system issue or an app issue, therefore on-topic.

I may be doing something wrong but darned if I know what it might be. All scripts are over 6 months old and never caused issues.

Also, there is no procedure in place for asking why an account is locked. I’m not even sure if the locking causes the friends to disappear or the disappearing friends are seen as a massive abuse of the API. I would suspect the former since the app is not write-restricted. Or, possibly, this is a new tactic meant to replace write restrictions?

I cannot be the only one experiencing this.

Perhaps if I explain what my app does?

Using Twitter lists and searches, I build up a list of potential people to follow.
That list is filtered to better target people I am interested in

A keypress then dribbles out a follow every 2 minutes to avoid annoying the rate-limits and to avoid wild swings in follower/following counts. It is not an aggressive follow, I limit to 200 a day max

After a 5-day grace, anyone not following back is deemed to have no interest in my stuff. A keypress again dribbles out unfollows every two minutes for the same reasons as above

Immediately prior to an actual follow or unfollow, a final check is done so as to not unfollow a follow or re-follow a follow

Once someone has been followed and unfollowed, they are removed from potential follows for 30 days so as to not annoy anyone.


You should probably read Automated following and unfollowing.


Lol, none of it is automated. It’s stored and dribbled out. Nothing happens without user involvement.


Just to be clear, I can click a button an awful lot faster than 15X in 15 minutes. Therefore the need to dribble out


If an account is locked for any reason (in this case probably suspicious patterns of automated follow/unfollow behaviour) then the friends/follow numbers will be fixed to zero until the account is unlocked again. This is the behaviour of the platform. Our antispam technology is adaptive and learns from experience to uncover strange patterns of behaviour and I believe this is likely to be behind any account lockout here. This is not a technical API issue as far as I can tell. I’m sorry if this has negatively affected your use of the platform.