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uSocial: Celebs Faking Number of Twitter Followers

Brace yourself for some bad news. Justin Bieber doesn’t actually have 3.6 million Twitter followers—he’s faking it.

At least, that’s the claim from social media marketing company uSocial. The Australian firm says it has "substantial evidence" that many celebrities—including Bieber, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Martha Stewart, and even Barack Obama—are artificially increasing their number of followers. No word on how uSocial gathered this information—thanks to the time difference, a rep wasn’t available for comment—but the company’s press release states that up to 25 of the top 100 users on Twitter have inaccurate follower numbers. Such injustice.

Whether or not this is true (and if it were, would anyone actually be upset?), it’s another interesting declaration from uSocial, which has a habit of making headlines thanks to ridiculous claims. Known for selling Twitter followers and Digg votes ($105-$200 kick-starts a submission, ensuring 100-250 votes), uSocial last year asserted that it helped Michael Jackson’s family purchase 25,000 followers, boasted about receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Digg, and counted the Mormon Church as a client. The Church later said they had never worked with uSocial.

We may never know if Gaga and Obama are faking it, but at least we can count on uSocial to keep dishing out PR stunts.

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  • Scott Byorum

    What a surprise. In an increasingly narcissistic society, people pumping their fan numbers to appear more important than they really are. The fact that there is even a story about this shows the depths we have sunk to. Shouldn't this be in Entertainment Weekly?

  • Michael McDowell

    I'll do uSocial one better and make the claim that the majority of Twitter accounts have inaccurate follower numbers. The etiquette of reciprocal following on Twitter all but guarantees this. Here's my guess as to the general, non-celebrity accounts with artificial followers.

    Anyone following more than 200 accounts on Twitter.

    It's that simple. If you are following more than that (probably a much lower number but I'm being conservative) , you are likely actually likely to be following none or few of them. It would be virtually impossible to keep up with a steady stream of tweets from that many accounts. I once asked someone with a significant number of followers, "How do you keep up with all of those people?" The reply, "I don't. I only read the @ messages or the DMs."

    A more complicated formula with a slightly higher degree of accuracy would likely be:

    Anyone following more than 200 accounts on Twitter where the follower count is also within
    20% of the following count.

    I'd be remiss if I didn't include Guy Kawasaki's comment from yesterday about any account on the old "Suggested Accounts" list. They are all clearly inflated as well.