You’ve found yourself with a lot of dead accounts, accounts that just don’t post often, accounts that have changed from interesting to offensive. You want to clear your account from dead weight but you’re not sure how many accounts you can unfollow at one time. Well, I can tell you there’s a lot of wrong (bad) advice out there. While I cannot give you an exact answer, because Twitter doesn’t provide that information, I have had several years of experience.
It’s possible things may change once you cross the 10,000 or higher barrier so I would recommend keeping the number of unfollows reasonable if you only have 2000 to 5000 connections for example. There are probably cases of someone unfollowing everyone in one day but I don’t have that information, yet. Once I find it I will share it. Meanwhile let’s think more in reasonable percentages than numbers.
Ian Gray says don’t unfollow more than 400 per day – I have surpassed that number frequently on multiple accounts. I unfollow as many as 1,000 per day and do so regularly.
Gail Gardner reported, “I have unfollowed thousands in one night (one at a time).” At the publishing of this short post she had about 80k followers.
A Warrior Forum user says, “For Unfollow their is no LImit I have been unfollowing 5-10k users daily with 1 accounts Just use that in nice delay.” [SIC] (Please do not take that site as anything more than just water-cooler yammer between people with little to no experience or verified knowledge.)
More of what Twitter is concerned with is “flipping” followers. If you follow 2000 accounts today and unfollow that same 2000 tomorrow it’s almost certainly going to raise a flag with Twitter spam control. The reason people do this is usually to build their follower list while keeping their following list low. It’s a way of gaming the system beyond the original intent. In fact that’s a better way to think of what is acceptable and what may not be–just ask, “does this violate the intent of Twitter?”
While Twitter provides fairly definite guidelines about early follow numbers they aren’t so clear about established accounts and follower/unfollower numbers. What they do say is if a single account repeatedly follows large numbers of accounts and immediately unfollows a large number of accounts there’s a higher likelihood that account may be suspended. How they consider interactions, age of the account, number of tweets, etc., is unknown to the general public. I have tried to get a Twitter insider to at least speculate but so far they have refused or simply said they don’t know the answer.