Twittergate: Gingrich’s Followers 92% Fake; Huntsman’s the Most Real?

Yesterday, news broke that a former Gingrich staffer claimed Speaker Gingrich had paid for his Twitter followers and that 80% of them were fake. A search firm named PeekYou has run a detailed analysis and found that the number of fake followers is actually 92%. As Gawker reports:

UPDATE: PeekYou sent over its analysis of the other GOP 2012 contenders for comparison. Whereas Gingrich rates 8% real followers, Sarah Palin is closest with a 20% ratio of real followers, by the firm’s analysis. Mitt Romney has 26%, Michele Bachmann 28%, and Tim Pawlenty 32%. In other words, Gingrich has by far a higher proportion of fake accounts following him than any of his competitors.

Meanwhile, the mellifluously named Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing has analyzed a random sample of 5,000 of Gingrich’s followers—as opposed to the full 1.3 million, which PeekYou did—and comes up with data that, while not as dramatic as PeekYou’s, seems to support the contention that most of Gingrich’s followers are fake. Fully a third of the CCNS sample have never posted to Twitter, and 76% had added no biographical information to their profile. Half had the default profile image. Keep in mind that the PeekYou weeded out business and brand accounts as not real people, which CCNS didn’t and would change the ratios.

The Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing’s finding, while just a sample, do seem to indicate that Governor Jon Huntsman has the highest number of real followers:

This is only a sample of Twitter followers and not the full examination of all a candidates Twitter followers, but generally a sample is a fairly good indicator of the full picture. I’ve been in contact with PeekYou founder and CEO Michael Hussey, and he informed me that PeekYou would run an analysis of the candidates they missed in this first sweep, including Jon Huntsman. As soon as that analysis is available, we’ll get it posted at OB&B as soon as we can.

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