70% of Obama’s Twitter Followers are Fake
President Obama may not understand economics, but his team knows the costs involved in buying MILLIONS of Twitter Followers.
Twitter followers are sold in two ways: “Targeted” followers, as they are known in the industry, are harvested using software that seeks out Twitter users with similar interests and follows them, betting that many will return the favor. “Generated” followers are from Twitter accounts that are either inactive or created by spamming computers — often referred to as “bots.”
Buyers and sellers see nothing wrong with it. “Buying followers generated by bots is against Twitter’s terms and frowned upon by the public,” Mr. Mitchell said. “However, it is perfectly legal.”
The practice has become so widespread that StatusPeople, a social media management company in London, released a Web tool last month called the Fake Follower Check that it says can ascertain how many fake followers you and your friends have.
The tool examines Twitter relationships, said Rob Waller, a founder of StatusPeople. “Fake accounts tend to follow a lot of people but have few followers,” he said. “We then combine that with a few other metrics to confirm the account is fake.”
If accurate, the number of fake followers out there is surprising. According to the StatusPeople tool, 71 percent of Lady Gaga’s nearly 29 million followers are “fake” or “inactive.” So are 70 percent of President Obama’s nearly 19 million followers. But Twitter is starting to clamp down. In April, it filed suit in federal court in San Francisco against five spammers, including those who create fake Twitter followers. (The case is pending.) That didn’t discourage Mr. Nainan, the comedian. He recently asked about “the theoretical maximum” Twitter followers he can purchase.
“They said, ‘You could probably get over a million, a million and a half,’ ”