Buying Twitter followers has become a booming industry in the past several years, and many of the world leaders inventoried here may have padded their follower counts. It is surprisingly cheap to do: $12 buys 1,000 Twitter followers.

However not all the fake followers may have been bought by the account they’re following. Twitter bots have made headlines for over a year, and there are many motivations for their deployment.

There is a website/service called Twitter Audit which a Twitter user can use to audit their account and figure out how many of their followers are fake. There are limits to the validity of this service’s findings, but it does lend insights into the composition of a given account by analyzing cross sections of its followers’ activity. This process has been applied to the two world leaders with the heaviest follower counts, with somewhat predictable results. Well over half of Modi’s followers are fake accounts, and just under half (47%) are fake for Trump, who recently bragged about his 100 million social media followers when faced with Katy Perry’s Twitter follower count mastery (she was the first person to reach 100 million followers, and only Barack Obama is close to seconding that.

   

In light of the prevalence of bought followers and fake accounts this “achievement” whatever it might have meant about her popularity, means slightly less. Still, it does point to the likelihood of engaging or crucial content being found on an account, and the intersection between engagement (or entertainment) and vital information is right where most world leaders on Twitter want to be.

-SG