Twitter Fraud: Did Newt Gingrich Buy Most Of His Twitter Followers?

Written by Timothy Ruth on Aug. 03, 2011

Did the campaign of Newt Gingrich buy Twitter followers in order to get an edge on the other Republican candidates vying for the the Presidency in 2012? While the spokesman of Gingrich is denying the claims on Twitter, it certainly is interesting to look at. The former Speaker of the House, who seems to only get press these days when his aides step down, or for his gaffes on the campaign trail is now being called out for “Twitter fraud”.

On Monday, website Gawker.com broke a story via an anonymous source that stated that a large majority of Gingrich’s followers on Twitter are “inactive” or “dummy accounts” that were “created by various ‘follow agencies'”. New York search company PeekYou confirmed the report as last month, they used an algorithm that determines how many of someone’s followers are actual accounts used by humans and which ones are what Gawker calls “dummy accounts”.

PeekYou’s CEO and founder were so stunned by the number that they thought they may have done something wrong. “At first, we actually thought it might have been a bug,” Michael Hussey, PeekYou’s CEO and founder said. “We have seen some pretty low consumer ratios in our testing, but Newt’s was the lowest we had ever seen.” According to the algorithm by PeekYou, only 92% of Gingrich’s followers are fake and 8% are real, meaning he only has about 104,000 followers.

Gingrich, who made history as the first person to announce he was running for President on Twitter, has had roughly 1.3 million followers since the time he officially announced he was running months back and it has not much changed since then. Gingrich only added fuel to the fire on Sunday when the former Speaker of the House complained to the Marietta Daily Journal that he was being “ignored” by the media despite his amount of Twitter followers he has in comparison to his competitors.

Despite the stack seemingly being against Gingrich in this case, R.C. Hammond, the spokesman for Gingrich, denied the claims in a tweet on Monday night. “@Newtgingrich’s 1.3 million followers are legitimate. @Gawker’s ‘source’ is not. Story untrue.”

While it certainly isn’t known for sure if most of Gingrich’s followers are fake — considering that Gingrich, for better or worse, is a well known politician — it should be noted that all you have to do is type “buy Twitter followers” on an auction site like eBay or a search engine like Google and you could literally buy more followers for your account.

To see how he stacks up to other GOP candidates, and assuming the 1.3 million followers number was accurate, he would be ahead of frontrunner Mitt Romney (63,500 followers) and Michele Bachmann (67,000) by 95%, Herman Cain (52,000) and Tim Pawlenty (45,500) by 96%, and Ron Paul (19,000 followers) by 99%. He would even be ahead of Sarah Palin (620,000) by 52%, who has a large following and has been in much of the spotlight since 2008.