How Medium counts your followers, and the backfills that disrupted it

Photo: Crissy Jarvis on Unsplash

A recent wave of users have questioned the validity of the displayed number of followers on their profiles. At one point, their follower number increased, some even by the thousands, but then a few weeks later went back down to around where the user originally remembered. Some users were concerned: Were their profiles hacked? Did a wave of users suddenly follow and then unfollow them? The answer is no—it was a data problem.

When Medium started to shift toward more relational content, we noticed that some users were missing authors in their “Latest From Following” section, which should show the…

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