Netizens rather than citizens are becoming the more attractive vote banks for political parties. The cyber space is mushrooming with cyber companies offering attractive services to win political battles. Political parties are also organising their own websites to conquer the virtual space. Truth of Gujarat had sometime back analysed the efforts of Narendra Modi and BJP to create innumerable websites to spread their propaganda. It was however found that one individual Mr. Rajesh Jain owns most of these propagandist BJP/Modi websites.
Cobrapost, in a recent sting operation has claimed that certain IT companies were supplying fake followers on Facebook and Twitter, thus misusing social media platforms by artificially boosting popularity of politicians and maligning their rivals.Â Cobrapost did name around two dozen such companies but did not expose the actual celebrities who avail the services of these fraudulent companies or artificially inflate their fan following using fake followers.
We at Truth of Gujarat have undertaken an exercise to analyse the Twitter followers of several celebrities in different fields like politics, cinema, journalism etc to place before our netizens the degree of inflation of their followers list. We are aware that certain websites are already in the cyberspace claiming that they can find a ratio of good vs inactive vs fake followers on Twitter but we believe that none of them apply a realistic algorithm to distinguish the fake from the good followers. We also believe that there cannot be any absolute criteria to classify a follower as fake or good or inactive but a comparative study can be made between similarly placed celebrities.
We start with the question as to what indicates that a particular twitter user is possibly “fake” and doesn’t represent a real person? Perhaps the one that never tweets, has no followers, never changes the default twitter image (egg), has an incredulous twitter id, would fit in the category of a fake follower. Also the typical characteristic of a fake follower is that they exclusively follow celebrities and never seem to have any real friends on Twitter. As illustration we are applying the above criteria to Mr Narendra Modi, Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Digvijay Singh.
|Total Followers (at time of analysis)||Followers who have never tweeted||Followers who have no followers themselves||Have never tweeted and have no followers|
|Modi||2574215||948022 (36.82%)||727370 (28.25%)||415643 (16.14%)|
|Rajnath||123187||34876 (28.31%)||27651 (22.44%)||14864 (12.06%)|
|Digvijay||112504||14156 (12.58%)||12680 (11.27%)||4601 (4.08%)|
|Followers who||Haven't changed their default image||Haven't changed their default image and have never tweeted||Haven't changed their default image and have no followers||Haven't changed their default image and have never tweeted and have no followers|
|Modi||1177424 (45.73%)||649485 (25.23%)||497419 (19.32%)||317226 (12.32%)|
|Rajnath||45062 (36.58%)||23367 (18.96%)||17952 (14.57%)||11334 (9.20%)|
|Digvijay||30499 (27.10%)||8756 (7.78%)||7960 (7.07%)||3509 (3.11%)|
|Followers who||Have five or more numerals in their twitter id||Have six or more numerals in their twitter id||Have seven or more numerals in their twitter id||Have ten or more numerals in their twitter id|
|Modi||176426 (6.85%)||145883 (5.66%)||121904 (4.73%)||11140( .43%)|
|Rajnath||9229 (7.49%)||7730 (6.27%)||6462 (5.24%)||721 (.58%)|
|Digvijay||5071 (4.50%)||4023 (3.57%)||3208 (2.85%)||338 (.30%)|
Comparing the score sheets of Modi, Rajnath and Digvijay, Modi of course scrores the highest in all the criteria that indicates fake followers. In fact, he is way above the other two. It would be pertinent to mention these are just few of the criteria which can be used to recognize fake followers, and there may be many others.
While analyzing the twitter followers of Mr Modi, we came across a group of twitter ids which scream fake. Each one of them have only numeric characters, are 10 digits each and exclusively follow Narendra Modi and no one else. It goes without saying, that they have never tweeted, have no followers and have no face either. This is the clearest illustration of the incredulous ids which would be necessarily fake. Try and click on any of the links below:
1880089164 7418381443 7508824278 7878497680
7897813526 8000604117 8003223670 8010093275
8053445210 8099232320 8460148050 8527356181
8696479393 8962876064 9000170213 9011883337
9016680805 9028663484 9033210550 9033235765
9033688635 9046363210 9049722078 9133085157
9266535675 9336504544 9370054516 9412613652
9414207240 9427494307 9427663621
9447364581 9503453710 9527665171
9560580341 9561415109 9574880779 9601436788
9631013051 9647413363 9649553815
9671107002 9679543386 9689686704 9700047010
9727225250 9730779233 9740080158 9741033351
9750033982 9764661778 9812432098 9813180007
9813979044 9814844399 9825053782 9828792792
9831327651 9832067358 9842726988 9844500444
9866699043 9879551708 9897033308 9897436666 9898488501
9899464310 9911727724 9913089668 9913789052
9921847978 9924249897 9925023396 9925092487
9928006787 9942652371 9947076315 9948004469
9963716961 9964905378 9967663797 9978811002
9979156134 9979320504 9981916442 9984175246
9991990707 9994307266 9999185498 7351489242
This is the new politics in the neo-liberal era. Fake your way to the top.
The databases used in the above calculations are downloadable at digvijaysingh.sqlite, narendramodi.sqlite and rajnathsingh.sqlite and were created using scraperwiki. We coded this tool and source code for all the scripts are available here. We are working on analysis of more politicians/celebrities/journalists and will soon come out with more analysis and reports.