Barack Obama is political king of the fake Twitter followers, with more than 19.5 MILLION online fans who don’t really exist

By  David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor

PUBLISHED: 15:58 EST, 24  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 20:57 EST, 24 September 2013

Fakest of the fake? Barack Obama's Twitter following includes 19.5 million people who don't exist, and the first lady has 1.9 million nonexistent fans of her ownFakest of the fake? Barack Obama’s Twitter following  includes 19.5 million people who don’t exist, and the first lady has 1.9 million  nonexistent fans of her own

Among influential U.S. political tweeters,  President Barack Obama is the undisputed king of the fake followers. A  MailOnline analysis ranks his sizable Twitter following as the most deceptive  total among the 21 most influential accounts run by American politicians: More  than 19.5 million of his 36.9 million Twitter followers are accounts that don’t  correspond to real people.

The four phoniest accounts in the sample,  which included Democratic and Republican Party leaders in Washington, D.C., were  those belonging to President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, first lady  Michelle Obama and the White House communications shop.

Of the president’s 36.9 million Twitter  followers, an astonishing 53 per cent – or 19.5 million – are fake accounts,  according to a search engine at the Internet research vendor StatusPeople.com. Just 20 per cent of  Obama’s Twitter buddies are real people who are active users.

Overall, the five most influential accounts  linked to the Obama administration – the  first lady has two – account for 23.4  million fake followers.

Biden’s nonexistent fans make up 46 per cent  of his Twitter total, with 20 per cent being ‘real’ followers. The White House’s  followers are 37 per cent fake and 25 per cent active; the first lady’s primary  account is 36 per cent fake and 29 per cent active.

The Daily Caller reported on Tuesday that  Michelle Obama’s Twitter followers included nearly 2 million nonexistent people,  a number that lines up with MailOnline’s findings.

Fake Twitter followers seem to be chasing U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle, but Barack Obama is the undisputed champFake Twitter followers seem to be chasing U.S.  politicians on both sides of the aisle, but Barack Obama is the undisputed  champ

A matched ticket: Vice President Biden's fake-follower ranking was 46 per cent, with just one-fifth of his supposed Twitter audience consisting of human beings who are actually listeningA matched ticket: Vice President Biden’s fake-follower  ranking was 46 per cent, with just one-fifth of his supposed Twitter audience  consisting of human beings who are actually listening

Michelle Obama's complaints about Americans' diet and exercise are falling on deaf ears, at least among the 71 per cent of her Twitter followers who aren't tuning inMichelle Obama’s complaints about Americans’ diet and  exercise are falling on deaf ears, at least among the 71 per cent of her Twitter  followers who aren’t tuning in

The difference between fake followers and  ‘real’ ones is comprised of ‘inactive’ accounts, which may relate to real people  but no longer send tweets with any regularity.

There are several reasons why  so many  followers of a given Twitter account might be considered ‘fake.’ In some cases,  direct marketers and other spammers follow influential accounts  en masse,  hoping to be followed in return.

Twitter’s own CEO, Dick Costolo, has a  personal feed followed by 1.1 million people, but 31 per cent of them are  fake.

There is also the possibility that prominent  politicians are buying blocks of Twitter followers. Such an accusation was  leveled at Republican  presidential candidate Mitt Romney in  2012.

The digital security company Baccardua Labs told The Guardian that Romney’s surge of new followers at the time were ‘not from a general  Twitter  population but most likely from a paid Twitter follower  service.’

‘Romney’s newest  followers could have been  paid for by himself, his associates or by his  opponents. So far, there is not a  feasible way to confirm who is  responsible,’ said the report’s author, Jason  Ding.

No such report about Obama’s social media  accounts was published.

MailOnline looked at 21 accounts, and the numbers show that just about everyone in Washington is at least 11 per cent phony -- at least on TwitterMailOnline looked at 21 accounts, and the numbers show  that just about everyone in Washington is at least 11 per cent phony — at least  on Twitter

Up, up, up! Vice President Joe Biden is second only to his boss in the fake follower departmentUp, up, up! Vice President Joe Biden is second only to  his boss in the fake follower department

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has made a name for himself among conservatives with nearly 1.5 million Twitter followers, but more than 400,000 of those don't appear to be realFormer U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has made a name  for himself among conservatives with nearly 1.5 million Twitter followers, but  more than 400,000 of those don’t appear to be real

When the White House tweets ... only one-quarter of its followers are receiving the message. About 37 per cent of them aren't real, and another 38 per cent aren't active on TwitterWhen the White House tweets … only one-quarter of its  followers are receiving the message. About 37 per cent of them aren’t real, and  another 38 per cent aren’t active on Twitter

One British company called Buy More Followers  advertises online that it offers ‘a wide  range of packages,’ providing as many  as 100,000 artificial but ‘real  looking’ Twitter followers for a relatively  modest £189.99. The company  also offers a 30-day money-back  guarantee.

Did he? One report determined that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's social media staff purchased a raft of Twitter followers to boost his online credibilityDid he? One report determined that Republican  presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s social media staff purchased a raft of  Twitter followers to boost his online credibility

The most genuine follower totals in  MailOnline’s sample were those of the four congressional ‘whips’ – the  second-in-command members in each party who enforce discipline and count heads  before votes are called.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, an Illinois  Democrat, boasts a Twitter account with only 11 per cent ‘fake’ followers, a  number matched by Minority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican.

‘Twitter is a great medium for Sen. Cornyn to  stay in direct contact with Texans,’ press secretary Megan Mitchell  said.

GOP House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy  of California was second-best among Republicans, with 12 per cent of his  followers lacking pulses and names. Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer  of Maryland came next with 13 per cent.

‘Twitter and other social media platforms are  an effective method for online conversations about important issues in  Congress,’ said Hoyer spokesperson Amanda Ott, noting that her boss ‘continues  to emphasize engaging with his constituents and the broader American public  through social media.’

Near the other end of the scale, however,  four of the most prominent House and Senate leaders – from both major parties – gave the  Obama administration a run for its money.

U.S. Senator John CornynSen. Dick Durbin

Playing it straight: GOP Sen. John Cornyn (L) and  Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (R) had the best records, with just 11 per cent of  their Twitter followers regarded as phony

Grass roots? About 29 per cent of Sen. Marco Rubio's 431,000 Twitter followers don't appear to be living, breathing peopleGrass roots? About 29 per cent of Sen. Marco Rubio’s  431,000 Twitter followers don’t appear to be living, breathing people

House Speaker John Boehner had the worst  record among members of Congress whose Twitter accounts MailOnline sampled.  One-third of his speaker account’s followers – 33 per cent – are fake, which is  a greater proportion than the 30 per cent who exist and are active tweeters.  Boehner also has a second account with a 24 per cent ‘fake’  rating.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic House  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  followed with 29, 29 and 28 percent fake followers, respectively.

The White House offered no reply to messages  seeking comment

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