Reports indicate that about 50% of the Twitter followers of U.S. President Donald Trump are fake. According to the report by Twitter Audit, a website which analyzes the percentage of real followers on a social media account, Trump boasts of 31 million followers currently though most of those followers’ accounts bear no personal information or profile picture. The accounts were also created recently.
All these are typical signs of bots or shell accounts that are operated by computer algorithms as opposed to a human being. However, not all these accounts could be fake as in some cases the lack of a picture, personal information or followers could mean the account is still being populated with content. It could also be a combination of both.
Last month, Trump’s followers on Twitter increased by over 2 million and since his inauguration the number has increased by 7 million. Last year around April, a few months before he was confirmed as the Republican presidential candidate, the real estate mogul had 7.58 million followers. At the time, as per a report by FiveThirtyEight, only approximately 8% of his followers then were fake.
One of the theories that has been advanced concerning the increases include the fact that Trump or his aides could have acquired fake followers which is something some individuals or entities sometimes do. Another theory that has been advanced is that there is a buildup for an upcoming ‘bot war’ between Trump’s critics and the Trump administration in a bid to influence the opinion of the public with regards to Trump and the many controversies that his administration is engulfed in.
All is vanity
Yet another theory is the fact that even though Trump is one of the most popular figures on Twitter he is not the most followed. It could thus be an attempt by him, give the importance he attaches to winning, to rise to the top. Currently the individuals with the highest number of followers on Twitter are Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Barack Obama. In the case of the Twitter account of President Obama, 21% of them were fake.