In August 2012, the Peak posted about the high prevalence of Democratic legislators, including Jared Polis, who “bought friends” on Twitter (approximately 82%). The original story cited The Hill. Yesterday, the New York Times also has called out Polis for his fake friends. H/T to Chuck Murphy for noticing the latest incidence of blue on blue violence. From the New York Times:
“In a follow-up to their earlier report, two Italian security researchers, Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli, call out Twitter accounts that added or lost a large number of followers in one day. Their list includes brands like Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz and Louis Vuitton; politicians like Newt Gingrich, Representative Jared Polis (the Peak emphasis) and Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian prime minister; and the rappers 50 Cent and Sean Combs, known as Diddy.”
In fact, Polis’ followers were so obviously fake that his account was used as a prime example:
“For example, Mr. Polis, a Democrat from Colorado with 22,140 Twitter followers on his personal @jaredpolis Twitter account, gained, on average, 15 new followers a day for two years. Then, last July, he added 19,705 new Twitter followers. A few months later, he lost 13,332 Twitter followers in one day.
A representative for Mr. Polis denied he had purchased fake followers and said one explanation for the sudden gains and subsequent losses was a ‘follow-back’ campaign. Last July, Mr. Polis said he followed a large number of new people from his personal account and asked them to follow him back. In March, he said he stopped following those accounts because he was becoming frustrated by the lack of relevant content in his Twitter feed. He now follows only 2,200 people. He surmised that a large number of followers may have stopped following him, too.
But Mr. De Micheli said that reasoning does not justify the sudden 19,705 jump in Mr. Polis’s followers in one day. Twitter’s own policy prevents users from following over 1,000 new people a day: ‘Every Twitter account is technically unable to follow more than 1,000 users per day,’ Twitter says on its Web site. ‘Please note that this is just a technical limit to prevent egregious abuse from spam accounts.'”
While Polis may be cited as the member of Congress with the highest percentage of fakes, he’s certainly not the only liberal guilty of this type of astroturfing. The Hill also noted that it was estimated that 70% of President Obama’s followers also were bought.
While a few (thousand or million) fake followers on Twitter may not seem like a big deal, does this further call into question other stats that Democrats love to tout?