After Donald Trump saw massive spike in Twitter followers over the weekend combined with multiple reports that he was actively blocking others, some folks were left scratching their heads. Particularly because many, many of Donald Trump’s newest Twitter followers (he managed to scrape together roughly 3 million new ones his first weekend back from the Middle East) were following him from tweet-less, picture-less accounts, most of which had joined Twitter just this month.
So, what gives?
It turns out, it’s incredibly easy to get as many Twitter followers as you want — as long as you’re willing to pay for them. Comedian Joe Mande may have explained the concept best in his personal Twitter bio. Mande has 1.01 million followers on the social media platform favored by Donald Trump, but according to his bio, they’re not exactly legit.
“”twitter is trash, facebook’s the devil, i bought a million followers for like $400 none of this s**t matters antarctica is melting.”
According to Mande, he figured out the follower-buying scheme in 2012, not long after realizing that the most sought-after celebs have the most Twitter followers.
“The simplest way to tell who’s winning the Twitter game is by counting followers. The biggest celebrity accounts—Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga—seem to have millions of followers. But in 2012 I learned that only a portion of those are real humans; some are ‘bots.”
But why would Donald Trump have to (or even want to) buy Twitter followers to boost his numbers? After all, Trump is arguably one of the most famous and infamous people on Earth. He has a big enough following of real, live people that he was able to win the presidency via the Electoral College (if not the popular vote). Why on Earth would Donald Trump need fake Twitter followers?
Trump's Twitter acc has suddenly gained 3 mil followers and has been blocking lots of people. New followers look like this… pic.twitter.com/uzYkeNsjUC
— John Niven (@NivenJ1) May 30, 2017
As Newsweek reports, Donald Trump can currently boast a whopping 31 million Twitter followers. However, millions of those followers just became followers within the last few days. And a disproportionate number of those followers are “people” who have never sent out a tweet and have never uploaded a profile pic or any other identifying information — all signs that a Twitter account most likely isn’t associated with a real live human.
In fact, according to a site called Twitter Audit, which promises to authenticate any Twitter member’s followers to see how many are real and how many are fake, the @realDonaldTrump Twitter handle boasts a follower-base of which only 51 percent are “real.”
— J∂§øN™ (@jason_reporting) May 30, 2017
Last October, the Inquisitr reported that nearly one-third of pro-Trump tweets were tweeted out by bots or fake Twitter accounts.
In January, a Twitter Audit report indicated that only 68 percent of Trump’s Twitter followers were the real deal. At the time, Donald “only” had 20 million or so followers, a number that has grown by fully half since the beginning of his scandal-embroiled administration. But has it really? Let’s do the math.
Currently, Donald Trump sits at just about 30 million, which is fully 10 million more followers than he had in January. However, in January his Twitter followers likely included 32 percent bot and/or otherwise fake account. As of today, the Twitter Audit tool indicates that fully 49 percent of Trump’s followers are fake, meaning that a whopping 8.3 million of his post-inauguration 10 million followers are likely bots.
With the explosion of Trump Twitter bots, any real supporters out there lose any voice they still had.
— Nathaniel Spuewell (@natespuewell) May 31, 2017
This is why Brannon's loading up Trump's twitter acct with 5mil new bots. Can't keep real help,so virtual must suffice.
— Lou Lzayche (@LzaycheLou) May 30, 2017
Trump's Twitter account just added 5 million follower-bots in three days. Something big is coming down the pike.
— Alex Paknadel (@AlexPaknadel) May 30, 2017
Trump wins, and magically twitter becomes filled with white supremacist Mormons? Two things: 1. They were always racist & 2. Lots of bots.
— BCC (@ByCommonConsent) May 30, 2017
Trump is far from the only famous person who has fake Twitter followers. Jaden Smith, for example, has 6.39 million followers of his @officialjaden handle. Of those, 75 percent are real. Chaz Bono has only 145,000 Twitter followers, but a full 97 percent of those are real. His mom, Cher, has 3.34 million followers, 86 percent of whom are real people. Hillary Clinton? She has 15.7 million followers and 61 percent of those are real, according to Twitter Audit.
Barrack Obama has 89 million followers, the third-most Twitter followers of anyone on the planet (only Katy Perry and Justin Biber have more). Of those Twitter accounts that follow former President Obama, 79 percent are real accounts.
Has Donald Trump been buying followers on Twitter? https://t.co/Cbg92jwR6b
— Metro (@MetroUK) May 30, 2017
Back in his pre-political days, Donald Trump already had millions of Twitter followers — 7.58 million, to be precise. Of those, 92 percent were deemed to be real accounts. So what happened? Why is so much of Trump’s Twitter following coming from seemingly fake accounts?
It could have something to do with the fact that Barack Obama has the No. 3 most-followed Twitter account in the world while Trump’s is No. 32.
Or maybe Trump and his team are trying to make up for some lost followers without anyone being the wiser. As The Hill reports, at about the same time that Donald Trump’s following surged by millions of Twitter accounts, many Twitter users were reporting that they had actually been blocked by the POTUS on Twitter. Many of the blocked social media mavens took to Twitter to share their stories and seemingly celebrate the achievement.
— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) May 29, 2017
Guys, if you can get blocked by trump, I highly recommend it. pic.twitter.com/ewnu4M4Riq
— Bae Talese (@elongreen) May 29, 2017
— Rob Szczerba (@RJSzczerba) May 29, 2017
It’s next to impossible to know if Donald Trump himself is behind his recent surge of (largely fake) Twitter followers, or if any of the new millions of followers were “bot and paid for.” However, it’s fairly likely that folks are going to be paying attention to who is following the POTUS as his list of Twitter followers continues to grow.
[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]