Are most of Newt Gingrich’s Twitter followers fake?

August 4, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has amassed over 1.3 million Twitter followers, however a recent report claims that upwards of 92% of them are fake. A fake account is an account that is empty, made by a bot, or is made for a special purpose, like boosting a person's follower count. According to some, this implies that Gingrich or his campaign bought Twitter followers in order to look more popular on the social network.

The social networking firm PeekYou has analyzed all of Gingrich's 1.3 million followers and claims that only 106,055 are real people. According to PeekYou, they can determine if an account is real or not based on the account's digital footprint. If the account has a real name associated with it, if there are tweets on the account that have conversations with other people, and if it has other biographical information on the account, then according to PeekYou there's a good chance the account is real. However, there is a margin of error in this kind of qualitative study, so it's difficult to know with absolute certainty how many of Gingrich's followers are undoubtedly fake.

A research group at Indiana University's School of Information and Computing followed up PeekYou's study with one of their own, and concluded after a random sampling of 5,000 of Gingrich's followers that 76% of them were likely not real people.

Given the corroborating results from Indiana University, it does seem at least plausible that a portion of Gingrich's followers are not real people. Fake Twitter accounts are a widespread phenomenon, and it's impossible to say how many politicians and celebrities have amassed a false following.

[Image source: Facebook]


Post by Adam Holisky

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