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HomeMiscellanyExclusive: Nearly a million of an Aquilini exec’s Twitter followers disappear

Exclusive: Nearly a million of an Aquilini exec’s Twitter followers disappear


Bob Mackin

The head of an Aquilini-backed company that wants to build a pipeline across Northern British Columbia was shocked when theBreaker delivered the news to him, that he had lost almost a million Twitter followers. 

Calvin Helin, the Tsimshian first nation lawyer and author who chairs Eagle Spirit Energy, boasted 1.7 million followers last November. That made him one of the most-followed people in Canada who is not a federal politician, athlete or entertainer. 

On July 11, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced on his feed that: “This week we’ll be removing locked Twitter accounts (locked when we detect suspicious changes in behavior) from follower counts across profiles globally. The number of followers displayed on many profiles may go down.”

Approximately 70 million fake accounts have been purged so far.

In January, the New York Times exposed how so-called social media influencers were buying followers in bulk. The proliferation of fake accounts is severely hampering Twitter’s attempts to sell advertising to major clients.

A Financial Post story last November described Helin as an “indigenous thought leader with 1.7 million Twitter followers.” On Friday, theBreaker noticed that Helin had lost more than half of his followers, to 797,673. Helin initially disputed the number, saying that he had 1.64 million when he checked earlier in the day. 

By comparison, Donald Trump lost 340,000 followers in the purge. Others affected include Justin Bieber (2.7 million), Oprah Winfrey (1.4 million) and Twitter (7.7 million).

“I’ve had this for a long time (since April 2010), I have a verified account,” Helin said in a phone interview. “I’ve been writing books for a long, long time and involved in social media for a long time and I follow lots of people and I just assumed lots of people were following me, I get lots of followers all the time.”

Asked if he had ever bought followers, to reach the 1.7 million level last year, Helin said no. 

“I don’t know if my account could be hacked or why that would happen,” he said. “Don’t know anything about it.” 

theBreaker also asked whether Helin had anyone manage his account for him. “I can’t remember, I just use it as a tool. I don’t pay any attention to it otherwise.” 

Eagle Spirit Energy is working on an application to build a $16 billion medium crude oil pipeline from Bruderheim, Alta. to Grassy Point in Northern B.C. or Hyder, Alaska for export. 

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