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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 18, 2009 @ 9:56 am

    Fake Twitter followers? Surely not

    Ciara O'Brien

    Brooks Bayne has started a bit of a spat on the internet by speculating about fake twitter followers.

    More specifically, he appeared to call into question @guardiantech on Twitter. He wrote:

    “I was trying to do a quick analysis of this to see if there was one account that was followed more than others to determine the source. After looking at 50 pages of these bogus followers, I found that @guardiantech was at the top of the list. This seems to be corroborated by the numbers on Twitterholic. I don’t know who @guardiantech is, or if they have the resources to be behind this, but it’s worth noting.”

    Of course, a quick Google, or even a look at @guardiantech’s profile would have revealed exactly who it was. The Twitter bio even has the link to the Guardian website and says it’s “News and comment from the Guardian’s technology team”.

    The post has already got a lot of responses, some agreeing, some not so enthusiastic. It even got a response from Twitter chief Ev Williams:

    “Thanks for the analysis. However, I believe your conclusion is wrong. As @Will points out, above, the reason for this is that each of these accounts is listed in our Suggested Users list, which is now the last page of our signup process. The followers aren’t fake, they’re just new users — which is why they don’t have updates or profile icons.

    The reason we created this feature is because lots of people sign up to Twitter but aren’t following anyone, so we’re trying to help get them started. This is a v 1.0 of this functionality, and we hope to make it a lot better. But I don’t believe there’s anything nefarious going on.”

    And the guys at Guardian Tech have also responded.

    Clearly this is a touchy subject among certain online communities. I’m still not really convinced why people would give a damn about the number of followers a twitter account has, but then I’m relatively new to the whole thing. Personally, I don’t see the number of follower as an endorsement of an account’s credibility, but maybe I’m not impressed by large numbers.

    And yes, I follow @guardiantech. But am neither a spam account nor a bot.