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Update: Only 92% of Newt Gingrich's Twitter Followers Are Fake
TPM ^ | August 2, 2011 | John Cook

Posted on 08/02/2011 1:16:38 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Yesterday, we published an item based on a former Newt Gingrich staffer's claim that Gingrich assembled his 1.3 million Twitter followers--a number that he's taken to bragging about--in part by buying fake Twitter followers. A lot of people did not think that was true! But today social networking search firm PeekYou announced that it had crunched the data and come to the conclusion that roughly 106,055 of Gingrich's million-plus followers are real people. The rest are fakes.

Our source yesterday told us that about "80 percent of [Newt's followers] are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various 'follow agencies'" paid by his campaign. That made sense to us largely because Gingrich's 1.3 million followers seems oddly inflated compared to, say, Sarah Palin's 600,000. But many folks quickly, and quite reasonably, pointed out that Gingrich was one of the first GOP politicians to be listed on Twitter's suggested user list--a perch that guarantees a torrent of Twitter followers and is as likely an explanation as any for Gingrich's high follower count. Of course, that doesn't disprove the claim that he buys fake followers--both can be true. The only historical data we could find on Gingrich's followers goes back a year, and--except for a small bump that coincides with the launch of his campaign--he's held pretty steady over that time, so we don't know whether there are any suspicious spikes in followers prior to that or whether they all came rushing when he was added as a suggested user in 2009. Short of direct evidence of follower-buying, there's not much more we can do to corroborate our source's claims aside from actually pore over all those 1.3 million followers looking for fakes.

As it turns out, the search firm PeekYou has done just that! And it doesn't look good for Gingrich. In a happy accident, PeekYou--which is sort of a people-oriented search index--has for the past year been conducting research on how to measure the quality of Twitter audiences, a project that included looking at politicians' Twitter followers. And by their count, just 8% of Newt Gingrich's followers are real people.

"We just started running the 2012 candidates' numbers three weeks ago," said Josh Mackey, PeekYou's general manager of business and product development, "and when we saw your story, we went back to pull the Gingrich numbers. The huge majority of his followers are either completely anonymous people who have no other web presence, or they are spambots."

Mackey said PeekYou actually scrubbed each and every one of Gingrich's 1.3 million followers, using 23 criteria--including name, location, and inbound and outbound links in their feed--to determine whether they were real people. "We usually find out that real people have real web identities," he says. For the vast majority of Gingrich's followers, that wasn't true. They were either business accounts, private accounts, anonymous accounts that had only a user ID and no other discernible connection to the internet, or spambots. The average Twitter user, Mackey says, has a follower count that consists of anywhere from 35% to 60% real people. At 8%, Gingrich's is the lowest PeekYou has ever seen. "When was saw it, we actually had our quality assurance people go over the numbers for two days to doublecheck," he says.

Using algorithms to determine whether an online presence is real or fake is obviously more art than science, and sometimes an anonymous or private account that leads nowhere else on the web is still real. "It's hard to determine what's real," says PeekYou CEO Michael Hussey. "We're looking at digital footprints. We're not perfect. We'll miss some people." But even if their algorithms are off, you'd expect them to be off by the same measure for the other politicians they've looked at--but Gingrich's count is way out of the ordinary, Hussey says. "The ratio speaks for itself." The firm is preparing to release similar data on other 2012 candidates.

Does this constitute hard evidence that Gingrich buys fake Twitter followers? No. Does it constitute hard (or at lease substantive) evidence that almost all of Gingrich's followers--the ones that he thinks make him a formidable presidential candidate--are fake? Yes. Of course, our Gingrich source was indisputably wrong about one thing--he claimed that 80% of Gingrich's followers are "inactive or are dummy accounts." The real number, it seems, is 92%.


TOPICS: Georgia; Campaign News; Parties
KEYWORDS: internet; newt; palin; twitter
Why do that?
1 posted on 08/02/2011 1:16:45 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Crowd psychology. People believe those who have large amounts of followers are important or have some kind of worth. Look at Obama’s amount of followers, I wonder how many of his are fake...


2 posted on 08/02/2011 1:19:23 PM PDT by Shadow44
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Oh, that’s gonna be awkward.


3 posted on 08/02/2011 1:20:15 PM PDT by RC one (whatever.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The sad part for Gingrich is that this really doesn’t matter, for all the wrong reasons.


4 posted on 08/02/2011 1:21:34 PM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
It is often the case that when the numbers initially come out, they look bad. People say the event is "unexpected".

But afterwards, the numbers are often revised ... and then they look even worse.

5 posted on 08/02/2011 1:22:22 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (The USSR spent itself into bankruptcy and collapsed -- and aren't we on the same path now?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’m no fan of Gingrich but an inactive account doesn’t mean it isn’t from a real person. It means that person signed up to follow one or more people, not to engage in conversation.


6 posted on 08/02/2011 1:27:39 PM PDT by Soul Seeker ( I was there when we had the numbers, but didn’t have the pThey may feel bettrinciples.---Jim DeMin)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

If this report is true one can only think: “Oh! How the mighty have fallen! Oh! How the great have been brought low!” Character is fate. Brilliant but flawed.


7 posted on 08/02/2011 1:28:12 PM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Only 92% of Newt Gingrich's Twitter Followers Are Fake

Which ironically matches the percentage of Newt's morals that are fake.

8 posted on 08/02/2011 1:28:46 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Sooner or later the left is going to say what is wrong with themselves is what is wrong with the right.


9 posted on 08/02/2011 1:29:30 PM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
After the 1994 mid-term election Gingrich was in command. If only he could have kept his zipper zipped....
10 posted on 08/02/2011 1:38:10 PM PDT by bwc2221
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Well, now we know what he spent all that money on to get so far into debt.


11 posted on 08/02/2011 1:39:15 PM PDT by Dr. Sivana (There is no salvation in politics.)
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To: Soul Seeker

Newt employs a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them. As you might guess, Newt is most decidedly one of the people to which these agencies cater.

About 80 percent of those accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various “follow agencies,” another 10 percent are real people who are part of a network of folks who follow others back and are paying for followers themselves (Newt’s profile just happens to be a part of these networks because he uses them, although he doesn’t follow back), and the remaining 10 percent may, in fact, be real, sentient people who happen to like Newt Gingrich. If you simply scroll through his list of followers you’ll see that most of them have odd usernames and no profile photos, which has to do with the fact that they were mass generated.


12 posted on 08/02/2011 1:39:48 PM PDT by all the best
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To: Soul Seeker

I think inactive accounts are those that are created, then not logged back in to. I don’t think people who don’t tweet themselves are “inactive”


13 posted on 08/02/2011 1:40:10 PM PDT by rokkitapps ( Hearings on healthcare waivers NOW! (If you agree make this your tagline))
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To: Shadow44; 2ndDivisionVet

Crowd psychology. People believe those who have large amounts of followers are important or have some kind of worth. Look at Obama’s amount of followers, I wonder how many of his are fake...

*************************

A recent photo of a Romney rally was like this. A dozen people in the ‘crowd’, with more than twice that many campaign signs in the photo. The crowd was mostly wooden sticks and plastic board.


14 posted on 08/02/2011 1:45:26 PM PDT by Psalm 144 (Voodoo Republicans: Don't read their lips - watch their hands.)
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To: Soul Seeker

But when you’ve got that many AND his former aide reported that he’d bought fake followers...


15 posted on 08/02/2011 2:28:13 PM PDT by 9YearLurker
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Ouch not sure if true or not. Was thinking Newt got a lot during the energy debate in 2007/2008


16 posted on 08/02/2011 3:07:50 PM PDT by unseen1
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