Too good to check: Former staffer claims 80% of Gingrich’s Twitter followers are fakes; Update: Or are they?

posted at 10:06 pm on August 1, 2011 by Allahpundit

Not only is it too good to check, it’s impossible to check. He has 1.3 million followers, more than twice the number Palin has and many, many, many times more than other Republican candidates. Unless there’s some Twitter algorithm I’m unaware of that can quickly check how many followers are actively tweeting, you’d have to hand-count ‘em to be sure and no one’s going to bother doing that. In fact, a quick scroll through his follower list shows that many of the last few hundred, at least, appear to be genuine.

So why has this story captured the blogosphere’s imagination today? Simple: It sounds like the sort of thing he might do, which really does make it too good to check. Although, in fairness, if we were building this narrative from scratch and looking for someone in the GOP field who seems most likely to pay people to follow him, we all know who it would be. And it ain’t Newt.

A former staffer tells us that his campaign hired a firm to boost his follower count, in part by creating fake accounts en masse:

“Newt employs a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them. As you might guess, Newt is most decidedly one of the people to which these agencies cater.

“About 80 percent of those accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various ‘follow agencies,’ another 10 percent are real people who are part of a network of folks who follow others back and are paying for followers themselves (Newt’s profile just happens to be a part of these networks because he uses them, although he doesn’t follow back), and the remaining 10 percent may, in fact, be real, sentient people who happen to like Newt Gingrich. If you simply scroll through his list of followers you’ll see that most of them have odd usernames and no profile photos, which has to do with the fact that they were mass generated. Pathetic, isn’t it?”

Gingrich’s spokesman denies it, of course. Politico wrote a piece on Newt’s massive Twitter following a few weeks ago and chalked the size of it up to his “personal touch,” i.e. the fact that he writes his own tweets instead of outsourcing them to a staffer. Er, okay, but I’m pretty sure Palin writes her own too and her political following is a lot deeper and broader than his, and somehow he’s still light years ahead of her. He’s not an especially prolific tweeter either: At the time of Politico’s story, he had tweeted 2,611 times in the course of 29 months for an average of roughly three a day. Prolific tweeters, who are more likely to attract followers because they’re churning out more material to catch the eye, will tweet many, many times that amount in the same span. I myself have tweeted more than 33,000 times in roughly the same period, but that’s what happens when you’re a beta male chained to a computer 16 hours a day. Newt’s numbers are more in line with a busy candidate/pundit/author/jack of all trades, but even so — 1.3 million followers from 2,600 tweets is remarkably efficient tweeting.

Which is not to say that his numbers are necessarily fake. There are quirky cases in which people you wouldn’t expect to amass huge numbers of followers do end up that way. E.g., John Dickerson of Slate has even more followers than Gingrich does, and may well be the most-followed journalist in America. I’m not sure why: He’s a respected political writer but not the sort of household name you’d expect would draw a huge audience. By comparison, Jake Tapper is on TV every night, tweets frequently (much more so than Dickerson), often engages with his followers, and yet he has less than a tenth of Dickerson’s audience. I think Dickerson might have been an early adopter of Twitter and picked up lots of followers as the site’s popularity exploded, but I’m not sure. Maybe the same is true of Gingrich? But if he and Palin have been tweeting for roughly the same period, why would he hold such a big lead? Odd.

Update: A friend e-mails with a likelier explanation for Newt’s following:

Hey, the Newt Gingrich story is unbelievable BS. Leave aside the utter impracticality of creating new accounts just to boost your follower numbers – you’d have to create new email accounts AND new Twitter accounts for each follower, which would be prohibitively time-consuming for a ridiculously small return – Gawker just completely ignores the most obvious fact: Gingrich was one of the very first Republicans added to Twitter’s Suggested User list.

Back in 2009, it was estimated that being on the Suggested User list could quickly get you about 500,000 followers. It has to have increased since then. Newt Gingrich was on that list for a long time.

By way of comparison, Al Gore (http://twitter.com/#!/algore) has 2.2 million followers and he has only tweeted 368 times. Why does he have so many followers? Because he was on the Suggested User list.

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I find that hard to believe. I don’t think Newt would be that dumb and it isn’t hard to believe he’d have that many followers.

JellyToast on August 1, 2011 at 10:09 PM

I’m following Newt and I’m not fake.

terryannonline on August 1, 2011 at 10:09 PM

Kind of like inflating cuts in a bill?

SouthernGent on August 1, 2011 at 10:09 PM

So there’s a chance we don’t really owe trillions?

Perhaps it’s a gimmick?

Lie to me.

artist on August 1, 2011 at 10:09 PM

80%?! That would be VERY BAD…

Khun Joe on August 1, 2011 at 10:09 PM

Net PR

lexhamfox on August 1, 2011 at 10:11 PM

I wish you could meet my Twitter follows, but they’re in Canada. I swear! You just missed them last week. They were visiting, it was great, too bad they’re in Canada.

Meric1837 on August 1, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Although, in fairness, if we were building this narrative from scratch and looking for someone in the GOP field who seems most likely to pay people to follow him, we all know who it would be. And it ain’t Newt.

AP reels back and punches Willard in the marbles?!

Up is down, black is white, dog and cats living together!

SuperCool on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM

agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them

Ya know when I read this I think maybe it’s a good thing that Congress is busy sinking America into the abyss.

Bishop on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM

What’s a fake follower?

keep the change on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Newt follows people back so. Not many politicians do. As soon as I followed Newt, he followed back.

terryannonline on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Anthony Weiner only wishes.

Electrongod on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM

I’d ask Geochelone. He’s got the software. I can’t imagine that many ” following ” him.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:13 PM

Shouldn’t it be “too good NOT to check?”

Always been a pet peave of mine.

KeepOhioRed on August 1, 2011 at 10:14 PM

I’m following Newt and I’m not fake.

terryannonline on August 1, 2011 at 10:09 PM

You’re sure?

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:14 PM

This sounds awfully fishy. 80% of that many followers is a huge number to fake…I’m sensing this former staffer has an axe to grind.

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 1, 2011 at 10:14 PM

What’s a fake follower?

keep the change on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM

An atheist?

*Ducks*

I’am am joking.

Electrongod on August 1, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Anthony Weiner only wishes.

Electrongod on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Convulsive SNORT!

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:15 PM

What’s a fake follower?

keep the change on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Ask Obama. He’s even losing the fakes.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Sorry, I don’t believe this… Gingrich was on a default follow list and a lot of spammers use that list when building their fake accounts.

ninjapirate on August 1, 2011 at 10:18 PM

You’re sure?

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:14 PM

stay classy

terryannonline on August 1, 2011 at 10:18 PM

Too good to check: Former staffer claims 80% of Gingrich’s Twitter followers are fakes

Just like his campaign………FAKE.

PappyD61 on August 1, 2011 at 10:21 PM

I had to follow Newt just to see what all the fuss was about.

TheQuestion on August 1, 2011 at 10:21 PM

stay classy

terryannonline on August 1, 2011 at 10:18 PM

Just askin’. Yu don’t seem to have a clue what you beleive in.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:22 PM

Newt…..

…….sounds like someone that would call people “HOBBITS“.

PappyD61 on August 1, 2011 at 10:23 PM

How can I get paid for stuff like this? I could use the extra cash….

joejm65 on August 1, 2011 at 10:24 PM

Just askin’. Yu don’t seem to have a clue what you beleive in.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:22 PM

I know exactly what I believe in. Thank you very much.

terryannonline on August 1, 2011 at 10:25 PM

So A.C.O.R.N. signed up Newt’s Twitter subscribers?

Left Coast Right Mind on August 1, 2011 at 10:27 PM

There’s something that bothers me about the phrase “too good to check.” It always reminds me of people who say, “I could care less.”

And about this, I couldn’t care less.

Connie on August 1, 2011 at 10:27 PM

Newt Gingrich is still alive?

JammieWearingFool on August 1, 2011 at 10:28 PM

Is Newt a suggested follow?

By that I mean, when you sign up for Twitter you’re provided suggestions of accounts to follow to get you started.

A chunk of those inactive followers could be caused by that. Someone signs up intend to use the account, follows him and others in the first few minutes, but then a day or so later stops using the account due to lost interest.

amerpundit on August 1, 2011 at 10:28 PM

Newt…..

…….sounds like someone that would call people “HOBBITS“.

PappyD61 on August 1, 2011 at 10:23 PM

Oh Lord! I found out my Hobbit name on the generator thingy.

Esmerelda Bulge of Hobbiton?
I suck in that stomach 9 hors a day and I get this?
That’s it, back to a ’50′s girdle.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Person most likely to pay for Twitterers ain’t Mitt, it’s Huntsman.

bloghooligan on August 1, 2011 at 10:29 PM

I know exactly what I believe in. Thank you very much.

terryannonline on August 1, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Share it with us sometime.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Also… 80%?
That would take a long time to produce that many fake followers.

But since we’re talking tweets…. I just saw Ron Paul’s latest tweet: “If debt is the problem how can more debt be the solution?”

JellyToast on August 1, 2011 at 10:32 PM

In fact, a quick scroll through his follower list shows that many of the last few hundred, at least, appear to be genuine.

Ninnies and fools all.

(Except Terry Ann.)

Kensington on August 1, 2011 at 10:33 PM

What’s a fake follower?

keep the change on August 1, 2011 at 10:12 PM


This.

unclesmrgol on August 1, 2011 at 10:33 PM

Share it with us sometime.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Politically I’m pretty conservative. I wouldn’t visit Hot Air if I wasn’t.

terryannonline on August 1, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Fake? Or fake-fake.

honsy on August 1, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Share it with us sometime.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Now she’ll tell us. Thanks alot.

portlandon on August 1, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Who gives a crap? Newt’s campaign has been dead for months.

teke184 on August 1, 2011 at 10:40 PM

Most of his followers are the crews that service the private business jet charters…

phreshone on August 1, 2011 at 10:40 PM

I am on Newt’s email list but have no idea how I got on it. But, I got also got a snail mailing from Huntsman and I’d even vote for Newt over Huntsman.

bw222 on August 1, 2011 at 10:40 PM

Now she’ll tell us. Thanks alot.

portlandon on August 1, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Oh you poor baby

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 1, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Now she’ll tell us. Thanks alot.

portlandon on August 1, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Sorry! :(
But I think we’ll be off the hook. No convictions there,.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Dede Scozzafavaaaaaahhhh!!!

ted c on August 1, 2011 at 10:46 PM

Old people like Newt Gingrich and my mom ruin social networking sites. Twitter is already stupid enough, but the last thing I need is to follow Newt’s every waking thought. Also, I don’t need to read about my mom making a casserole.

Shock the Monkey on August 1, 2011 at 10:47 PM

Paying people to follow you is stupid. It defeats the whole purpose of Twitter, which is to have legit people RTing your stuff. That’s how your “message” is spread. So having fake twitter followers is counter productive and a waste of time and money.

ramrants on August 1, 2011 at 10:47 PM

I think it is possible to track….hmmmm, but I’m not giving away all my secrets quite yet.

angelat0763 on August 1, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Back before the craze of Twitter he had a blog page with entries that would have 2-3 replies if any. During Dede Scozzo he wrote an entry that had a first 4-5 replies then the flood gates opened and it had 100-150 by that days end. No way he has a million followers.

Marcus on August 1, 2011 at 10:51 PM

Old people like Newt Gingrich and my mom ruin social networking sites. Twitter is already stupid enough, but the last thing I need is to follow Newt’s every waking thought. Also, I don’t need to read about my mom making a casserole.

Shock the Monkey on August 1, 2011 at 10:47 PM

We are not all that tedious. You should have seen my tweets for the Garfield election.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:54 PM

I was under the impression Newt got most of those followers during the energy debate back in 2007 or so.

unseen on August 1, 2011 at 11:09 PM

Newt is not trending.

SlaveDog on August 1, 2011 at 11:23 PM

In fact, a quick scroll through his follower list shows that many of the last few hundred, at least, appear to be genuine.

While I think Newt is a dog of a candidate, I’ve been following him for quite a while. In fact, it was well before he became a candidate.

As for Gingrich’s numbers versus Palin’s, there is the fact that Palin pretty much just cross-posts from her Facebook account, while Gingrich engages directly on Twitter. There are people who tend to not follow Twitter accounts that are just rebroadcasts of Facebook or blog posts (I’m one of them). Case in point – there’s more followers of AP and Ed on Twitter than the Hot Air blog feed.

Steve Eggleston on August 1, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Still no one to explain what a fake follower is?

keep the change on August 2, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Didn’t Chuckles Johnson at LGF create a bunch of fake followers for himself on Twitter. Some one recognized that all the names had a similar format; not only structurally but generically.

And IIRC they magically went away when Chuckles was called on it.

Isn’t that right? Or was the story bogus?

Geochelone on August 2, 2011 at 12:05 AM

Shouldn’t it be “too good NOT to check?”

Always been a pet peave of mine.

KeepOhioRed on August 1, 2011 at 10:14 PM

There’s something that bothers me about the phrase “too good to check.” It always reminds me of people who say, “I could care less.”

And about this, I couldn’t care less.

Connie on August 1, 2011 at 10:27 PM

The saying is indeed “To good to check.”

It implies that the event in question is so good — it’s what you’re wanting, hoping to be true — that you don’t want to check it for fear that it might end up being NOT true, in which case you would then be extremely disappointed. Ergo, if something is “too good to check”, you just want to bask in the upfront story, lest the facts of the matter not be in your favor.

Though I doubt it’s 80%, I wouldn’t put it past Gingrich to have added to the rolls. Maybe more in the 40% range, but since this staffer obviously had an axe to grind, he exaggerated the number to draw more interest and get someone to actually start sifting. If they find a bunch of fakes or or if Gingrich’s follower count suddenly starts dropping suddenly over the next few months, this could very well be the last straw for his campaign.

zauriel on August 2, 2011 at 12:35 AM

If Newt’s doing it, they probably all are.

slickwillie2001 on August 2, 2011 at 1:02 AM

zauriel on August 2, 2011 at 12:35 AM

Yes, I know. I looked it up after AP used it for the umpteenth time. Still think it’s stupid.

Connie on August 2, 2011 at 1:04 AM

“..tell us, Mr Speaker, do you still beat your wife?”

The War Planner on August 2, 2011 at 1:26 AM

So if you follow but don’t tweet, you’re fake?

Ronnie on August 2, 2011 at 2:00 AM

Always been a pet peave of mine.

KeepOhioRed on August 1, 2011 at 10:14 PM

What’s a peave? Do they eat much?

Ronnie on August 2, 2011 at 2:06 AM

Mr Ethanol Subsidy probably bought himself some followers….

NORUK on August 2, 2011 at 5:12 AM

I am a loooonnnnggg time reader of Hot Air. Matter of fact, it was barely warm when I started and I have to say that it continues to surprise me that Allahpundit continues to be provided a voice here. He is and always has been a puke and the articles he chooses and how he writes them too often conjures images of a scorned woman working through her inner child.

whatfur on August 2, 2011 at 5:25 AM

whatfur,
and your argument was what?

NORUK on August 2, 2011 at 5:51 AM

Oh Lord! I found out my Hobbit name on the generator thingy.

Esmerelda Bulge of Hobbiton?
I suck in that stomach 9 hors a day and I get this?
That’s it, back to a ’50′s girdle.

katy the mean old lady on August 1, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Brellyra ‘Proudneck’ Jackley of Bywater is my hobbit name. You may call me Bre. LOL

IowaWoman on August 2, 2011 at 5:52 AM

What’s a peave? Do they eat much?

Ronnie on August 2, 2011 at 2:06 AM

Pet peave: a particular personal vexation

IowaWoman on August 2, 2011 at 5:57 AM

Real or not, you can’t convince me that “twitter followers” are a force to be reckoned with.

Extrafishy on August 2, 2011 at 6:54 AM

Still no one to explain what a fake follower is?

keep the change on August 2, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Anyone following Obama is following a fake, so they are ipso facto “fake followers”

VelvetElvis on August 2, 2011 at 8:44 AM

What’s a peave? Do they eat much?

Ronnie on August 2, 2011 at 2:06 AM

Pet peave: a particular personal vexation

IowaWoman on August 2, 2011 at 5:57 AM

I believe Ronnie was just having a bit o’ fun with the misspelling; the word is “peeve”.

whatcat on August 2, 2011 at 9:09 AM

“Followers” are just that, followers. Twitter is for twits!

Bleed_thelizard on August 2, 2011 at 9:38 AM

@NORUK…There was not argument. Duh. Just an observation that if there is some petty story that AP can tweak a conservative with he jumps out of his bloomers to do so. Who are you his big sister?

whatfur on August 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM

My Hobbit name is Lobelia Hamwich of Buckleberry Fern.

However,I prefer my elf name which is Galadriël Elensar although I would like to live in Buckleberry Fern. It sounds like my kind of place. I live in a sort of hobbit-ish house now.

Lily on August 2, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Just an observation that if there is some petty story that AP can tweak a conservative with he jumps out of his bloomers to do so.
whatfur on August 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Yeah, because a story thats possibly critical of Newt Gingrich will really bother the conservatives at HA. *eyeroll*

HA is Ed and Allah. I miss either one of them when they are gone.

KeepOhioRed on August 2, 2011 at 11:02 AM

No KOR, because a story like this one is by far more important of the hundreds of other stories passed over to place it here. HA *eyeroll* *middlefinger*

whatfur on August 2, 2011 at 11:21 AM

Does it really matter?

This guy needs to give it up – like his staffers have done.

He is nothing more than a footnote in history books these days.

He needs to work on giving/selling speaking engagements to pay off his tab at Tiffany’s.

molonlabe28 on August 2, 2011 at 2:27 PM