Monday, August 27, 2012

Obama's 17M Fake Twitter Followers - why it doesn't matter

The number of fake Twitter accounts that follow the President's Twitter account has made headlines recently. People want to make some sort of case out of this that Obama himself has someone blown his own popularity out of proportion by making himself look big on Twitter. This isn't true, and it is all very stupid.
I have been on Twitter since the very beginning. I joined the site in 2006 right after it launched. I have over 1,000 followers. I sound big, I sound important. One thousand followers! She must be interesting and fun to follow!
Oh no. Not the case.
Sure, to the untrained eye it all appears that way.
But I'd venture a guess that I easily have 700 fake followers. How does this happen? Easy. I've been on Twitter for a long time. Lots of people join daily, set up an account, search for people to follow based on keywords and celebrity, and follow them. And then they never come back to Twitter after the first few days. We consider them "fake" accounts. Because I have been on Twitter for so long, I have used a lot of words. When someone does a keyword search my account pops up- because I have used so many words! It doesn't mean I have anything in common with that account. I just used a word sometime in the last 6 years. People see I have a lot of followers, and assume I must be important. They follow me. The cycle repeats itself.
The same goes for actual celebrities. A person joins, looks for "interesting" people to follow, and naturally the President's account pops up. People follow. And then they never return. The cycle repeats.
The number of fake followers has nothing to do with the President or his ethics. It is a worthless story and an even more worthless statistic!
Just for fun, here is a quick screenshot of my 8 most recent followers (since Friday). Of these people, I follow none of them back. But I do intend to follow Andres back with my other account. He is a fellow writer for the Motley Fool, and I will communicate with him through my more news and investing oriented account. (This is a shot of my personal account @erinannie.) Of these people I have nothing in common with any of them except Andres. I can see why Lisa Miller and Igor would follow me. I worked in social media for years, and my account frequently shows up as an "expert" in that area, because of keywords. One can only guess what the rest of these people were thinking when they chose to follow me!

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