Hate to break it to you, but your favorite celebrities, political figures and major brands aren’t as popular as you thought. As the siren sounded, Twitter began deleting millions of suspicious, fake accounts hiding out in people’s profiles on July 13. Most of these fake accounts existed to manipulate the follower count of social influencers.

The New York Times blew the lid off this situation in January after finding a small company in Florida selling fake accounts that use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors.

“We don’t want to incentivize the purchase of followers and fake accounts to artificially inflate follower counts, because it’s not an accurate measure of someone’s influence on the platform or influence in the world,” said Del Harvey, Twitter vice president.

Following size has a direct impact on how advertisers develop strategies to reach valuable market segments on social media. Kylie Jenner, the youngest “self-made” billionaire, capitalized on her massive social following to gain promotional sponsorships and leverage her successful makeup company.

With this purge, Twitter updated their privacy policy to protect real users from accounts mimicking their information. A teenager found her photos and information taken from her real profile and copied onto a fake account that retweeted and promoted obscene content. Twitter implemented an automated system that fights off these fake accounts and 10 million of them are were challenged since May.

Smirk New Media understands the difference between vanity metrics and true engagement but the mass of fake followers changes the perspective of people looking at profiles online.

From the beginning, Smirk has always advocated for meaningful growth and zeroing in on valuable progress. That type of growth doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s foundation for long-term success,” said Allie Carrick, Smirk president and managing partner.

This way we can see if our strategy is working or if we need to rethink some moves in our playbook. If a lot of these followers are fake, we don’t get to truly see how advertising can influence consumers on social media.

Through its actions, Twitter delivered a strong, definitive message to social media users that might seek to manipulate their platform in the future — it won’t work. We’re proud to have been on the right side of history in this debate and will continue helping our clients build strategies focused on real people and real results.