President Donald Trump’s Twitter account (@realDonaldTrump) has some 14,776,939 fake followers, according to the web service Twitter Audit. 15,880,610 of the president’s followers are real, giving him an audit score of 51 percent.
Here’s how Twitter Audit describes the process of calculating fake followers:
Each audit takes a sample of up to 5000 (or more, if you subscribe to Pro) Twitter followers for a user and calculates a score for each follower. This score is based on number of tweets, date of the last tweet, and ratio of followers to friends. We use these scores to determine whether any given user is real or fake. Of course, this scoring method is not perfect but it is a good way to tell if someone with lots of followers is likely to have increased their follower count by inorganic, fraudulent, or dishonest means.
Back when I used to blog about social media, I experimented with fake followers and came to the same conclusion of so many of my colleagues: in terms of actual benefit (engagement, reach, retweets, etc) versus simple matters of appearance, buying fake followers is only useful for the purposes of vanity. Blogger Ian Anderson Gray put it this way:
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When you buy followers or fans, you aren’t getting people who are interested or willing to engage with you. You are merely buying numbers. After paying for followers/fans or engaging in aggressive follower churn, you are likely to get a large number of fake accounts amongst your number.
Gray is absolutely correct. The fake accounts who followed my Twitter handle did absolutely nothing to increase engagement, edgerank, or spread my tweets further. They exist only for appearances.
The President of the United States is obviously a prominent figure. It’s possible other Twitter users (or those with political motivations) may have purchased the horde of fake followers for him. Given how common the buying of followers is among politicians, however, the most likely scenario involves a DT staffer wishing to impress the boss with an inflated follower count.
Featured image by the United States Government with additions from the editor.
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