With the Republican tax-reform bill headed toward reconciliation, Senator John McCain’s office focused on its next task: getting his Twitter account to hit 3 million followers.
The result was predictable: People began unfollowing McCain’s account in droves, with #UnfollowMcCain quickly picking up steam on the service.
If you’d checked @SenJohnMcCain’s follower count on Twitter around 12 p.m. ET, however, you’d think the account had already crested over that particular mountain; he was showing 3 million for a good part of the day. Some users suspected that it was a sign that Twitter is secretly in the pocket of the GOP:
The reality is, begging for an extra 74 followers wasn’t really needed — Twitter changed its design in 2014 to round up the follower count for accounts with more than 10,000 followers. Anybody browsing Twitter who didn’t bother to hover their mouse over the account’s Twitter follower count would have seen the senator as having that nice, round 3 million follower count once he hit 2,995,000 followers. His account had already hit that when his office decided to tweet out the call for just 74 more people to smash that follow button.
For the moment, @SenJohnMcCain is back to reading “2.99M” followers. It’s a deeply meaningless number, especially for a senator who is suffering from a serious disease and almost assuredly will not run for reelection. Still, for those who won’t get the chance to voice their displeasure about the senate’s work on tax reform until 2018 at the earliest, it’s a number that they were able to actually affect.