Apparently when U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t busy confusing the world with tweets about “covfefe”, he’s allegedly amassing millions of fake Twitter followers, at least according to Twitter Audit, a website that helps determine fake and real Twitter users.
Of Trump’s approximately 31 million Twitter followers, Twitter Audit concluded that 15,910,994 are real and 15,044,248 are fake. It came to this conclusion using a methodology that looks at each user’s number of tweets, the date of their last tweet and their ratio of followers to friends.
What is a “fake Twitter user”?
While there isn’t a universally accepted definition of a “fake Twitter user,” in this case “fake” refers to an account created solely for following others. Usually these accounts don’t bother uploading an avatar image, entering personal information into their public profile or tweeting out any of their own messages. Some of these accounts can be created by real people and some can be created by computers — the last types are known as ‘bots.’
A University of Southern California study released earlier this year concluded that anywhere from nine to 15% of all Twitter users are fake or ‘bots’, although some ‘bots’ — such as ones that help disseminate news or reports during a natural disaster — can be helpful.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey estimates that the number of fake accounts on their platform is closer to 5%.
But are half Trump’s Twitter followers really fake?
Twitter spokesperson Nicholas Pacilio called twitteraudit.com’s methodologies “very flawed,” adding that their count inevitably includes Twitter users who don’t often tweet or ones who use the service but haven’t bothered filling out a full profile.
Also, there’s no way to know whether Trump has paid for these allegedly fake followers or whether someone else created them and had them follow our Commander in Chief.
Is Trump the only politician with fake followers?
No, not at all.
When Trump was still running for president in April 2016, the stats website fivethirtyeight.com estimated that eight percent of his followers were fake. (So were seven percent of Hillary Clinton’s.)
A more recent audit in January 2017 estimated that 32% of his followers were fake. A similar audit determined that 21% of then President Barack Obama’s were fake.
Newsweek concludes that of the 10 million followers Trump has gained since January 2017 (around the time of his inauguration), about 8.3 million are allegedly fake.
Featured image by imtmphoto via iStock Photography