Are Romney Followers Robots? Twitter Analytics Raise Doubts

Are Romney Followers Robots? Twitter Analytics Raise Doubts

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[story via CNN.com] Are Mitt Romney’s Twitter followers increasing rapidly, on their own – or is something going on here?

Last weekend Zach Green, founder of 140elect.com, noticed a strange trend with the followers of Romney’s account, @MittRomney.

Photo via twittercounter.com. 130,000+ fake followers courtesy of @MittRomney.

Using Twitter Counter, an online tool that charts every Twitter account, he noticed that Romney had gained a huge spike in followers–with no logical explanation as to why. This past weekend, Romney had gained 23,000 followers on Friday, 94,000 on Saturday, and another 24,000 on Sunday. Compared with previous data, in which Romney had been amassing a small amount of followers over a long period of time (about 3,000-4,000 a day) – some Twitter experts are claiming the new numbers to be fake.

This wouldn’t exactly be a surprise, though–it’s happened before, even recently:

For example, Romney’s opponent in the primaries, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, was dinged by a report that as few as 8% of his 1.3 million Twitter followers were real. The rest were drummed up by a program that creates fake accounts to swell someone’s follower ranks, the report said. (The campaign denied it.)

But the Romney campaign is vehemently denying any involvement:

The Romney campaign says it had nothing to do with the spike in the former Massachusetts governor’s follower list.

“We have reached out to Twitter to find out additional information regarding the rapid growth,” campaign spokesman Zac Moffat told BuzzFeed. The campaign did not immediately respond to CNN’s message seeking comment for this story.

Even though the new followers could be (definitely) fake, they could have been purchased through a third party Twitter site, like one where you can buy up to 25,000 followers for $225 – meaning the jump in followers was an intended gaffe for the campaign. That, or a bad call by a Romney Staffer.

Either way, Romney needs a lot more followers before he’d even be close to President Barack Obama’s 17-million.

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