Fake social media followers newest ploy, accusation in political campaigns

Michelle R. Smith, The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - There's a virtual dust-up over how Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney amassed more than 100,000 new Twitter followers in just a few days.

It may seem trivial, but not to social networking junkies or campaigns mindful of the need to project an image of digital popularity and power.

An analysis by the technology firm Barracuda Labs found most Twitter users who followed Romney one July weekend were probably fake, although it's impossible to know who's behind the spike. Romney went from 673,000 to 814,000 followers in that time. That number has since risen to more than 861,000. President Barack Obama has 18 million followers.

The Romney campaign's digital director, Zac Moffatt, says the campaign did not purchase the followers. He says the number isn't even something they care about.