Twitter has a bit of a spambot problem. The issues has gotten so bad that follower counts have begun to mean very little – for every real person following you, there are 10 fake ones. So how do you find out if you have a case of the fake followers? Social Bakers, the social network analytics company, has come up with quick solution called “Fake Followers.”
Using the Web app is as easy and free. You enter in any Twitter account and hit the check button. The app will calculate for you three different percentages. The first is the percentage of “fake or empty” Twitter accounts. The second are the percentage of inactive accounts. The final number is the percentage of legitimate accounts.
There’s a thriving underground market for false Twitter accounts. Malicious users will use the number of followers to appear authoritative, but legitimate users like your corporate brands and celebrities that have fake followers means that these users have a less commanding influence or reach. Social Bakers founder and CEO Jan Rezab explains the consequences of having fake followers. “Having a large number of fake followers affects the credibility of the user’s account. Take a brand for instance. Though, the brand may seem very popular because of the number of followers, it a large number of them are fake, it puts the validity of the popularity in question. Also, fake followers may overload a user’s account with scams, such as ‘the miracle diet’ or ‘work from home’ [offers].”
Celebrities and corporate accounts, Rezab tells me, tend to have a greater propensity for fake accounts. Take for example Justin Bieber’s Twitter account that has over 31 million followers, which has a proportionately lower percentage of “good” accounts. 27 percent are fake or empty, 12 percent are inactive, while 61 percent are “good.” Breaking this down, with 31,127,591 followers at the time of this writing, “Fake Followers” is estimating that in reality Justin Bieber has 18,987,830 actual followers (plus or minus 4.6 million users taking into consideration a 15 percent deviation).
But because the app is in beta mode at the moment, it takes a random sample of 2,000 users and calculates the percentages based on this limited sample group. For now, Fake Followers promises a 10-15 percent standard deviation (inaccuracy), but that should shrink as Social Bakers enables larger sample sizes. The app is being constantly fine tuned, Rezab says. But defending the current app he adds, “As far as brands and/or celebrities etc. are concerned, if users are finding a high number of fake followers from their sample, this [sample size] number should suffice. Also, this is a beta and we intend to improve it every day.”