Who doesn’t want more followers on twitter? Every one should want more of them, especially if they are reasonably active on twitter. It’s nice to know that people want to listen to what you have to say; it massages your ego and makes you feel important when you are not a celebrity. So if you are a normal person, you usually work hard to earn followers.
But what if the tweeter (barely) is a celebrity? They cheat. Yes, cheat. Who has time really to work hard to earn these followers? Some just buy twitter followers. Not that they won’t have good number of them anyway, but they always want more, more and more of them. It makes them feel more privileged and gives them some sort of prestige – against each other.
A simple Google search educated me more about fake followers. I learnt that buying followers has suddenly became a fashion, and it costs peanuts. This fashion reached extremes when it was done by Barack Obama and denounced as a sin by some Saudi cleric!
Now, social media experts can teach us a lot about recognised techniques of earning followers, but these methods which I even used are aimed at real followers, real people behind their accounts, not…computer generated automated accounts as we will see below.
It all started while I was looking at Marcel Ghanem’s profile. when I noticed the huge sum of followers he had, which quite surprised me. Not that he doesn’t deserve them, of course, but it was more the rate at which it suddenly jumped to. I noticed lots of his followers have zero followers themselves, zero tweets, the egg as avatar or the case when handle name is the same as the name. In other words, non-humans.
My simple search led me to a simple tool which saved me some hard work. It takes a sample of 500 followers of a certain account and checks how fake they are. It gives an indication, just like any exit poll, but I have tested it on more than one day to get consistent results. Most high-followers accounts’ results varied within a 10% range, so any ranking should be taken with a pinch of salt. Just take the essence of it: FAKE FOLLOWERS are present in most celebs accounts. Results of low number of followers (less than 10,000) accounts seemed reasonably accurate.
Anyway, I ended up checking some Lebanese celebrity accounts and the results were…surprising! Marcel Ghanem is the biggest offender, but in reality many celebs and politicians are doing it.
My own empirical assessment says we have two main categories of percentage of fake followers:
- Greater than 12%: these accounts are likely to be buying followers. The higher the % is, the higher the certainty is.
- Less than 12%: these are normal accounts. There is little chance they are buying followers, but some reasonable % fake followers is likely to be present due to spammers. It’s worth nothing I couldn’t find a celebrity or ‘public figure’ in this category.
Please, please note the below list is indicative and not exhaustive in anyway. apologies from the good people out there… I didn’t include all the names I wanted to – in both categories, but free to try the tool of anyone you might think of and report the results in the below comments section. Some results could surprise you…
Anyway, Let’s go straight to the results, in the decreasing offending order:
Follow @Marcel_ghanem Marcel Ghanem with 72,800 followers tops the list with 45% fake followers (today’s score is 51%). He is the host and executive producer of Kalam Ennas show (34,700 followers), which is a runner up on this list too.
Follow @KalamEnnas Must be the same social media team in both…! Today’s score of Kalam Ennas was 47%:
Follow @OctaviaNasr Octavia Nasr of 82,600 followers, the gentlewoman of twitter, the media consultant and former CNN staff has 38% fake followers:
Follow @SleimanMichel I have to be careful here, but the Lebanese President Michel Sleiman of 41,600 followers is with us too with 34%:
Follow @Elissakh Haifa is going to be glad with this; Lebanese singer and best selling artist in Middle East and North Africa Elissa is leading among her colleague stars with 34% fake twitter followers. Ok, Elissa has 424,400 followers!
Follow @NancyAjram Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram of 234,600 followers comes after Elissa with 33% fake, around same region:
Follow @Najib_Mikati I don’t know what the Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati is doing here, but it seems 32% of his 57,500 followers are fake. Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into 100% with the current government track record:
Follow @HaifaWehbe And here we go, our new Diva, Platinum Selling Recording Artist, our Haifa Wehbe comes here nicely with 30% of her 323,100 followers. Not bad. She worked hard on the other 226,000 followers:
Follow @HaririSaad He will be be upset to know he sit in this list, but probably happy to know he is below Najib Mikati. Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has 22% of his 176,200 followers fake:
Follow @RaghebAlama Super Star Ragheb Alama has 18% of his 276,300 followers fake. He scored early twenties too on another day:
Follow @MonaAbuHamze Mona Abu Hamze, the MTV anchor, writer and ‘Public Figure’ has 18% of her 43,500 followers fake (she needs to interview at least one of them for us). She scored in early twenties on another day:
Now we move to the category where fake percentage are reasonably low i.e. normal accounts. I list few accounts just to prove they exist, and actually not far away from my timeline. These are some Lebanese people I follow and interact with on frequent basis (on different levels). Let’s keep in mind that if some ‘follow back’ spam accounts, this could impact the % fake score:
Follow @Beirutspring So, our tool said Mustapha Hamoui of Beirutspring blog has 11% fake followers. Mustapha is a good follow; He blogs consistently with sound points of views:
Follow @Ziadmajed The political researcher, lecturer and thinker Ziad Majed scored only 8%. Which reassure me that’s also can be benchmark, if you allow me dear other tweeps…:
Follow @NMoawad The activist and blogger Nadine Moawad had also 7%. Good follow on gender and activism issues:
Follow @Beirutiyat Beirutiyat Lebanese blogger had only 5% fake:
Follow @AymanItani Ayman Itani, a digital strategist and media professor, had scored also 5%:
Follow @Abuhatem AbuHatem, ‘just an individual with a twitter account’, who is a good follow on the Levant and American politics scored only 5%
Follow @KarlreMarks Karl Sharro, an architect, political blogger and columnist scored only 6%. I wait his punch lines and the three-dictators-walk-into-a-bar jokes:
Follow @FunkyOzzi FunkyOzzi scored the lowest with the 3%. She is good in picking up silly jokes on twitter and improve them… by mocking them. Again, good follow:
Follow @TheZako …and yours truly. Please follow me.
Disclaimer from Status People and me:
We take no responsibility or liability for any upset or perceived damage that this site may cause you, financial or otherwise. If you have purchased fake followers and this site reveals that fact to the wider World that is your problem. Not ours.
Disclaimer from Lebanon Spring:
If you have an issue with your scores, take it with the Status People tool developers. We just – reasonably – reported what’s out there.
Update 24/08/2012: I might have been conclusive about ‘buying’ the followers phenomenon, although there might be another explanation that I don’t know. For me, the main conclusive thing is that some famous accounts have unproportionally high percentage of bots-followers.
It’s possible these bots follow famous people by default, but why? Bots can be programmed to follow arbitrarily anyone, so what following famous people – in any invasion like manner – offer them something extra? And why they want to give a celebrity let’s say 100,000 followers for free?
If bots are supposed to gain credibility by following – for free – famous people, then it does the opposite because you can easily see all similar bots are following consistently the same famous people, not others. Which in my opinion nominate them to be the ‘payers’. The other thing is these bots do actually follow non-famous people too, who also buy followers, but in less proportion.
I stand by my interpretation that buying followers is happening by some Lebanese and this is a shopping place to start with, but I am surely interested about any relevant research, and of course, I stand to be corrected on this.