An audit tweeted by a verified account called ‘Twiplomacy’ revealed the proportion of fake followers that some world leaders have.

Audit finds that 60 pc of PM Modis followers are bot profiles
Social Social media Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 16:43

Bots and fake profiles on Twitter are not a new phenomenon, proven a number of times with accounts tweeting out synchronised content with an agenda.

It is also not new information that political parties employ bots to gain traction around their propaganda.

What has come as a bit of a shock however, is the sheer number of these bots, and the proportion of followers they make up for some of the most celebrated leaders and their social media personas.

An audit tweeted by a verified account called ‘Twiplomacy’ revealed the proportion of fake followers that world leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis have.

The results are quite interesting.

60% of Modi’s followers are bots, according to the study. The same is true for 37% of Trump’s and 59% of the Pope’s followers.

This essentially means, out of Modi’s 40.3 million followers, 24.18 million are bots.

Check out the other numbers here.

According to Nick Bilton’s piece in Vanity Fair, bots have been around for a while. And until 2012, they weren’t even seen as a bad thing.

The problem started however when brands realised that people with huge social media following could be used to sell their products. By 2014, people were being paid thousands of dollars to do the same. Social media influencers had officially arrived. And then, people began to buy 'followers' once they figured out how easy it was: you could buy as many as 4,000 bots for as little as $5. 

Bilton says in his article that Twitter has always known about these bots or fake accounts. It has just removed enough bots for it to seem like they care, but not enough to significantly bring down the number of active users on the microblogging site.

For powerful political leaders such as Modi and Trump to have a  majority of their followers as bots is problematic of course. There are websites which allow for you to find out how many fake followers a Twitter handle has. According to another report which did that, Congress President Rahul Gandhi emerged with 69% fake followers and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, 51%.

 

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