Need a little comic relief?
How about the fact that more than half of President Barack Obama’s 37 million Twitter followers don’t exist? According to a recent analysis, Obama stands at the top of a short list of high-profile American politicians (and hangers-on) in having the highest percentage of nonexistent Twitter “followers.”
The top four spots on the Daily Mail’s list of politicians with inflated Twitter stats are all occupied by White House Democrats, but Obama himself holds the only account with a following that’s more than 50 percent fake.
Vice President Joe Biden comes in second to Obama; 46 percent of his half-million Twitter disciples don’t exist. “The White House” is third, at 37 percent, and Michelle Obama is fourth, with 36 percent of her Twitter audience not existing. Organizing For Action runs the Michelle Obama account; the First Lady also has a separate, smaller-scale account as “FLOTUS.” That account fares a bit better, with a fake following of “only” 25 percent.
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) occupies the fifth-place spot on the phony list, with a 33-percent-fake following.
It’s not until the sixth spot, occupied by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), that the percentage of nonexistent followers is eclipsed, for the first time on the list, by “good” (aka “real”) ones. Rubio’s fake following stands at 29 percent of his total audience, while his real followers make up 35 percent. A third category that tallies inactive followers makes up the remaining 36 percent (a figure that varies little for all the other politicians on the list).
Quite a bit farther down come Senate conservatives Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Each has a fake audience that comprises 19 percent of his total Twitter following. Each also has a “real” following that stands at 48 percent.
To be fair to all concerned (including the President), not all the phony Twitter followers can be accounted for by the phenomenon of “buying up” batches of nonexistent user accounts to intentionally pad the numbers.
“There are several reasons why so many followers of a given Twitter account might be considered ‘fake,’” notes the Daily Mail. “In some cases, direct marketers and other spammers follow influential accounts en masse, hoping to be followed in return.”
There is also the possibility that prominent politicians are buying blocks of Twitter followers. Such an accusation was leveled at Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.
The digital security company Baccardua Labs told The Guardian that Romney’s surge of new followers at the time were ‘not from a general Twitter population but most likely from a paid Twitter follower service.’
‘Romney’s newest followers could have been paid for by himself, his associates or by his opponents. So far, there is not a feasible way to confirm who is responsible,’ said the report’s author, Jason Ding.
No such report about Obama’s social media accounts was published.
Is it too far-fetched to guess that no report on Obama’s Twitter army ever will reveal how many of his digital foot soldiers are bunko?