Citing a SparkToro – Moz-affiliated software company which aims to “help people do better marketing by making the publications, people, and sources that influence any audience more transparent” – analysis, Quartz reports that 33 million of Trump’s 55.1 million Twitter followers can be considered fake.
In order to determine whether a Twitter account is fake or not, SparkToro’s software runs the accounts through a through a machine-learning based tool. This tool picks up signals that an account might be inactive, spam, or propaganda. If a Twitter account racks up seven to 10 signals or more, the software deems it fake.
According to SparkToro’s analysis, many of President Donald Trump’s Twitter followers display spam signals.
Ninety six percent of Donald Trump’s Twitter followers have been placed on very few lists, 92 percent feature links with spam patterns, 72 percent of the president’s Twitter followers have been inactive for three months or more, and more than 50 percent have gone more than a year without sending a reasonable number of tweets, according to the analysis.
The full list of spam signals SparkToro’s tool registered for President Donald Trump’s Twitter followers has been published by Quartz.
Interestingly, Donald Trump is not the only politician with what appear to be fake Twitter followers. Fifty percent of California Governor Jerry Brown’s followers are fake. Over 40 percent of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Al Gore and Mike Pence’s Twitter followers were deemed fake by the software as well.
More than 33 percent of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Twitter followers were deemed fake by SparkToro, as were 26 percent of Ted Cruz’s.
More than 60% of Donald Trump’s Twitter followers look suspiciously fake https://t.co/sYfU47XuFC— Quartz (@qz) October 12, 2018
Elaborating on the findings, SparkToro’s founder Rand Fishkin wrote that “no one, two, three, or even six signals means we’ll treat an account as low quality,” noting that it is “very rare that an account could have a combination of seven to 10 or more of the above signals and still be a real, active, human being.”
While politicians’ social media followings may consist of what appear to be fake accounts, the sheer volume of suspicious Twitter activity does not come as a surprise to those familiar with what the New York Times called “social media’s black market.”
Athletes, celebrities, and journalists frequently purchase Twitter followers from companies such as Devumi, which has – according to the NYT – provided its customers with more than 200 million followers.
Following similar reports of fake followers in March this year, Twitter released a statement, calling the methodology used to determine whether a Twitter account is fake or not “deeply flawed,” according to Firstpost.