Faking Fakers for Fake Outrage

There’s a new tool that checks a sample of a Twitter account’s followers and determines how “real” the audience is:

  • Active followers
  • Inactive followers
  • Fake accounts

Enter a Twitter handle, and you get a breakdown like this:

The accounts deemed “fake” seem to have a decent methodology:

We take a sample of your follower data. Up to 500 records depending on how ‘popular’ you are and assess them against a number of simple spam criteria.

On a very basic level spam accounts tend to have few or no followers and few or no tweets. But in contrast they tend to follow a lot of other accounts.

However, there is no good way of finding out just how those Fakes got there. The presumption is that the Fakes might have been purchased, which is an easy thing to do to goose the metrics, if raw numbers seem impressive for you. There are many places you can go online to buy a bunch of Twitter followers, some for as little as a penny apiece.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Okay, so it’s easy to buy Twitter followers (for as little as a penny each), and it’s easy to spot them. It’s also easy for a political campaign to make another look foolish.

Step 1: Spend $2,500 and buy a quarter of a million Twitter followers for your opponent.

Step 2: Leave a couple of tips for local reporters, telling them there’s been a spike in activity for said opponent.

Step 3: Seed a couple of blog posts with links to the Status People site.

Step 4: Promote your opponent as a giant phony.

The whole business of buying followers is so shady, there’s no one who will jump up and claim responsibility. Often, these outfits use bots/scripts that don’t talk, or overseas “mechanical turk” labor that doesn’t care about the results of Wisconsin’s Third District. The assumption will always be that the candidate with the apparent bump paid for it. Foolproof, really.

By the way – some of the top accounts on Twitter got checked by the New York Times.

According to the StatusPeople tool, 71 percent of Lady Gaga’s nearly 29 million followers are “fake” or “inactive.” So are 70 percent of President Obama’s nearly 19 million followers.


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  1. Nice tool. Mine were 90% real, only 1% fake.

  2. hmmmmmm . .. . !

    @ Your NYT link:

    “According to the StatusPeople tool, 71 percent of Lady Gaga’s nearly 29 million followers are “fake” or “inactive.” So are 70 percent of President Obama’s nearly 19 million followers.”

  3. move on people, twitter is lame ~
    (thinking entities never used twitter and if they ever did it wasn’t for anything meaningful)
    the signal to noise ratio in it is atrocious


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