On January 31, actor and prolific tweeter Amitabh Bachchan put up a curious post threatening to quit the micro-blogging website over a dramatic reduction in the number of his followers. This came a few days after a New York Times report on January 27 alleged that several prominent personalities, including actors, journalists, businesspersons and politicians, had paid Devumi, a third-party company, to have their followers artificially increased through fake profiles. The ensuing investigations saw several Twitter users lose many followers as more than a million ostensibly fake profiles disappeared from the website.
Bachchan was not mentioned in the New York Times report. It is not clear if the drop in his followers was linked to the investigation. But the 75-year-old actor did not seem pleased, as he made clear when he posted that it was time to get off Twitter.
Bachchan did not follow up on his threat. On Friday, he laughed off the issue saying that everyone is “Twittered”.
Bachchan’s resized Twitter follower list still counts 32.9 million people, but he has now dropped a place in the list of the most popular Indians on the social media platform. Previously second only to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bachchan is now in third place. Taking his spot is actor Shah Rukh Khan.
Bachchan’s outrage was greeted with shock and amusement on Twitter.
Some Twitter users suggested that the reason for the drop in Bachchan’s followers could be the actor’s decision to meet and greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visited India last month. Netanyahu’s itinerary included an event called Shalom Bollywood, where the politician met several film industry members, including the Bachchans and Karan Johar.
Some interpreted the action as the actor’s endorsement of Israel’s stance on the border dispute with Palestine even as he has stayed silent on pressing issues in India.
Bachchan’s social media game has irked Twitter users in the past too. In particular, there has been criticism and mockery of Bachchan’s curious habit of tweeting a thought or a statement with his own picture, or a still from his movies. These pictures usually have no connection with the content of the tweets.
For instance, during the downpour in Mumbai in August 2017 that waterlogged many parts of the city, disrupting rail and road traffic and imposing an unofficial shutdown, Bachchan joked about the calamity on Twitter. As always, his tweets were accompanied by a photo of himself.
Twitter users promptly called him out for his posts.
On the actor’s birthday on October 11 last year, several users parodied Bachchan’s quirky social media strategy by tweeting their best wishes to the actor, but with their own pictures.
Bachchan has also used Twitter to air his grievance at younger actors who ignore his birthday greetings sent via text messages.
It is perhaps fair criticism, since Bachchan firmly believes in responding to all messages, even those from his legion of fans on Twitter. The Bollywood veteran is courteous with his several million followers, and ensures that he never lets them feel ignored.