Director David Fernando sounds off about fake followers on Twitter (in other words, cheats). He writes:

News this week claims that up to 50% of Donald Trump’s Twitter followers are probably fake. That’s genuine ‘fake news’ I guess. But how do we know?

When Trump announced his candidacy for President, his Twitter account had just over 8 million followers. Today that number has swelled to 31 million. Perhaps not surprising for POTUS but according to a wide variety of sources including  The Metro, Newsweek and others – 14,776,939 of these are not real people, they are most likely to be automated “bots” – paid for by the account owner.

Donald Trump fake followers

Why? Simple. Vanity and power. A high number of fake followers can artificially boost the perceived popularity of social media accounts thus positioning the owners as influencers. You don’t have to look far to find other examples of this dubious practice, in even your local neighbourhood (and, yes, we all know who you are in Wimbledon).

Fake followers can be bought online for around $90 per 10,000. True, not all fake followers are bought, and every account will probably have a small number. But an account that has a significant number of them has probably acquired them illegitimately in an attempt to dupe people.

Accounts that have (seemingly) popular social media accounts can help win business and influence people. They can also inflate the social media assets of their company and therefore apparent value (although any decent due diligence would quickly uncover the truth).

And how do you find out the truth? Well, there are many ways. You can even try it yourself for any Twitter username here: Twitter Audit or here: Fakers.

It’s not a fake fact that when it comes to social media, sadly many businesses are still convinced that a large number of followers is more important than good levels of engagement.  But, as a sensible business knows, the real value is not the number of followers you have but the levels of engagement you achieve via your social media activities.

“Why does any of this matter?”, I hear you ask. Well, in the grand scheme of things when famine is about to claim millions of lives in Yemen, the honest answer is, “It doesn’t”.

However, in a world where the social media giants are under increasing pressure to root out deception in their channels, it still resonates and should be addressed.

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