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Millions Of Lady Gaga’s Twitter Followers May Be Fake

August 28, 2012 | Posted by Joseph Lee

The Guardian reports that several million of Lady Gaga’s 30 million Twitter followers may be fake.

The article (which also mentioned British celebrities Wayne Rooney’s five million and David Cameron’s over two million followers) says that a new British company called Status People has developed a program to trace and point out fake followers being used to increase the numbers of followers for celebrities, politicians and others.

With social media, it used to be the number of Facebook friends that showed popularity. That has been replaced by Twitter followers. The number is seen as a way of influencing people that advertisers and marketing companies can use. Before the Olympics, many British athletes were asked to tweet about products (like cars) they received before the competition began from sponsors.

Status People has developed a software tool that will split the followers into fake, inactive and good categories. Rob Waller, a company executive, says he decided to create the tool after reports that former Tory MP Louise Mensch had 40,000 fake followers. The tool will expose the full number of fake followers.

Waller said: “A fake account is set up to follow people or send out spam. They normally have no followers, but follow large numbers of people. An inactive account is one in which there has been no activity for a while. They could be real people, but we would describe them as consumers of information rather than sharers of information. A good account is everything that remains.

The tool analyzes the accounts 100,000 most recent followers, but Waller hopes to improve the accuracy. Of the accounts looked at, Lady Gaga has only 29% “good” followers, Wayne Rooney 30%, David Cameron 37%, Stephen Fry 36%, Alan Carr 39% and Ricky Gervais 34%.

Nearly ever Twitter account has a small percentage of fake followers because anyone can follow you, including fake accounts set up to promote porn. This has opened up the door for the sale of Twitter followers. Several sites offer thousands of followers for small amounts of money, according to the New York Times. It would be possible to by 220,000 followers for only $326. There are two ways to do this. One software finds Twitter accounts using keywords like football, and “follows” these accounts hoping they will return the favor. Other programs create fake accounts and sell them. The Fiverr website says has 2,000 followers for $5.

Mensch, when she heard she had fake followers, tweeted: “I’ve asked @Twitter in the UK to see if they can remove the 40k spambots and reset me to my 66k count … need a better filter.

Grant Shapps, the minister for housing, was accused by a political website of creating fake followers. Several people said that they were “followed” and “unfollowed” several times by Shapps, which suggested a computer program was doing it.

Katy Howell, the chief executive of Immediate Future (a social media group) said Twitter was new and people are still working out the rules. She said: It’s a young industry and there is still a lot of immaturity in it. Most celebrities and brands will start off their Twitter accounts by following people who they think might follow them. It’s a kind of flirtation, but there is a thin line between what is in the spirit of social media and what is gaming the system.”

She also said that most celebrity and company accounts are managed by agencies or assistants who may want to increase the numbers. She added: “They lose some control over them. The easiest way to demonstrate success at managing a Twitter account is showing the increase in the number of followers. People do it to show off, but the other rationale is that you need a critical mass of followers before some people take you seriously … you need 20,000 followers before people will look at you. You need to build a connection and a relationship with people who are interested in what you do.


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Joseph Lee
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