Fake, inactive Twitter followers plague presidential campaigns
September 3rd, 2012
03:53 PM ET
10 years ago

Fake, inactive Twitter followers plague presidential campaigns

Washington (CNN) - When Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's Twitter account surpassed one million followers this weekend, the campaign took to Twitter to boast about their "1 million active followers." But according to a web app that analyzes the quality of an account's followers, that number may be far from accurate.

The "Fake Follower Check" from StatusPeople, a social media management company, shows that 28% of @MittRomney's followers are inactive and another 14% are fake accounts.

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This number, however, may put him on surer footing than the man he is challenging for the White House. On overall follower count, President Barack Obama blows Romney out of the water with more than 19 million followers.

But the site finds the quality of Obama's Twitter followers is even poorer, with 35% of them inactive and 31% fake.

StatusPeople bases their "Fake Follower Check" numbers on a sample of 1,000 followers from an account's most recent 100,000 followers. The followers are assessed on a number of criteria to see if they are spam accounts. StatusPeople says that on a basic level spam accounts "tend to have few or no followers and few or no tweets. But in contrast they tend to follow a lot of other accounts."

Determining the veracity of StatusPeople's identification of Twitter accounts as fake or inactive is difficult as their methodology isn't proven. And fake and inactive Twitter followers extend far beyond political Twitter accounts. According to the app, top 40 recording artists Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, both giants on Twitter, have 31% and 14% fake or inactive Twitter followers respectively.

Here is the tweet that @MittRomney sent out to boast about his follower milestone:

[tweet http://twitter.com/MittRomney/status/242311854834212864%5D

Romney campaign Digital Director Zac Moffatt acknowledges that some of their followers are likely fake or inactive.

"That's the nature of the Web. But we don't define success by that," Moffatt tells CNN. "Our emphasis is not on vanity metrics such as overall number of followers. Actionable metrics such as re-tweets and mentions are all that matter."

A brief audit of Romney and Obama's last ten tweets as of publication shows that Romney's individual tweets do get re-tweeted on average of more than 3 times as much as Obama's tweets.

But Obama's tweets come at a much higher frequency. The ten Obama tweets were all tweeted in a 70-minute period, where Romney's tweets came from a range of 3 ½ days.

Obama also ranks higher on Klout, which measures online influence by measuring dozens of variables. On the 0-to-100 scale, Obama is the highest ranked person on Klout with a score of 99 and Romney comes in at 90.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. cali girl

    Sounds just like the GOP mantra, "If you don't know the answer, make it up"! Eddie Munster says he can run a marathon in 2 hours. Rayn lyan. It was more like 4hours. But no matter.
    When you need a boost, just pick a number, like, oh, a million. Then you get the real answers and say oh well.

    September 3, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. T'sah From Virginia

    ►The "Fake Follower Check" from StatusPeople, a social media management company, shows that 28% of @MittRomney's followers are inactive and another 14% are fake accounts.◄

    Just like the FAKE African Americans Romney bought to the NAACP meeting and then had those SAME African Americans interview to a FAKE journalist stating they were disappointed in Obama – Yep, that's the 0% of FALSENESS Romney has all around him and then he brings his number 2 in – Paul LYAN to help him!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward and YES, We Know You Built That – We ALL Did!!!

    September 3, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |

    I am Outraged!! Oh I'm so glad that CNN is concerned with how many fake twitter followers Romney has. The next investigation they will be doing is whether or not the dog Obama at was fried or baked. Thanks for reporting the Important Stuff CNN.

    September 3, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. emma

    Am not surprised. Who will support a mormon, liar and cheat? Am sure they created the fake accounts which is their stock in trade to decieve themselves and not people like me who will never support these demonic and antichrist bunch.

    September 3, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. v_mag

    Just "following" someone on Twitter doesn't make you a "follower" of the candidate. I imagine there are hordes of right wingers "following' the President to try and get something they can use against him, and the same with Romney.

    The most discouraging aspect of this whole fiasco is the degree to which we are locked in meaningless conflict with each other. For years, the country has been split down the middle, and the plutocracy that really rules has been able to keep people at each other's throats and keep their eyes off what has really happened to our system of government.

    The oligarchy of loosely associated millionaires and billionaires funds both sides and whips up enthusiasm to keep us all focused on which party has the advantage, and in so doing, they keep our eyes off who is really in charge. It is advantageous for the real rulers of America to divide the population and for the "official" government to be deadlocked, and they have done a good job of that. The 1% have been identified, but they have not been controlled in the least.

    September 3, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Marie MD

    Twit (pun intended) this.
    Was issa from CA in Detroit over the weekend? He and his brother are car thieves. I wouldn't put it by the teapugs to do something like this.

    September 3, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. Thomas

    Is that Nikki Randhawa Haley's Tweet stunt woman ?

    September 3, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. hangar13

    Interesting take – the article is all about Romney's fake followers, but a sentence hidden within dismissively mentions that a much higher percentage of Obama's followers are fake. Nope, no bias here, just the facts, ma'am. Also failed to mention that the dems require STATE-ISSUED PHOTO ID to get anywhere near their convention. What a bunch of racists (by their own standards).

    September 3, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |