In “Report says 15 percent of Mitt Romney Twitter followers are paid fakes” Ars Technica summarizes a new report that estimates that more than 15% of Mitt Romney’s Twitter followers have been generated by paid services. The report from Barracuda Labs points specifically to July 21st when Romney’s fan base jumped by 116,922 new followers.
These new followers represented a single-day 17% spike in followers for Romney. Fully 25% of the accounts were less than four days old and over 23% had never issued a tweet. Interestingly over 10% of the accounts were later suspended without comment by Twitter.
The study explored the shady grey market of purchasing followers by opening test accounts and purchasing followers for them for an average of $18 per 1000 follows. They then collected metrics about the fake accounts and applied them to Twitter accounts at large. The practice of selling accounts is against Twitter’s terms of service but the firm seems to do little about it.
We must be clear that the Romney campaign has yet to comment and the report’s evidence can only reasonably considered circumstantial. However the evidence is also very convincing. Having taken into account the minimal potential impact we still feel that this kind of store-bought deception earns the Romney campaign a charge of Douchebaggery in the Third Degree. In addition we also give the campaign an additional charge of Misdemeanor Dumbassery just for the plain egotistic silliness spending any money at all on fake Twitter followers.
We are willing to suspend these charges should it come to light that the campaign did not, indeed, purchase the followers in question.