The Fake Follower problem

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As noted by this Politico story, fake followers on Twitter are a problem for most elected officials.  A brief examination reveals that many high level elected officials have a high percentage of fake followers, including:

  • President Obama: 46.8% fake followers
  • Senator John McCain: 23.8%
  • Hillary Clinton: 21.9%
  • Chris Christie: 18.9%

These numbers are embarrassingly high.  Though it is possible intentionally inflate your follower count by seeking companies that can gain you fake followers (know as bots), it is also very likely that most elected officials have nothing to do with their high amount of fake followers, who simply follow them because they are popular accounts and following other accounts help to make bots look more real.  It’s also important to note that this is not an exact science – far from it – and it is often impossible to know if accounts are real or fake.

A few points on dealing with this:

How you can tell if you have fake followers

There are numerous websites that you can use to determine if you have fake followers on any account – including your own.  Fake Followers is one such example.  Just plug in a username and the website will tell you how many of your followers are fake.  In each case, you have to authorize the app to let it access your Twitter account.  For me, Fake Followers said that 96% of my followers were good, with 1% inactive and 3% suspecious or empty.  From there, you can also block the accounts that Fake Followers identifies as fake from following you.  I will say that at least two of the accounts that were labelled as “fake” were real and new, so again, it’s not foolproof.

How to prevent fake followers

Unfortunately, that’s hard to do.  There are apps like Blockfak that will allow you to automatically block fake followers, but as we’ve already established, those aren’t foolproof, so that may not be the best way to go.  Beyond that, fake followers are, more or less, a part of the Twitterverse.

Any thoughts to add?  Let me know in the comments!

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