Indian Politicians Fake it To Make it on Twitter [Most of them have more than 50% fake followers]

With state elections round the corner in Karnataka and central government elections about a year away, the role of social media in general and Twitter in particular, in shaping public opinion is being debated. We analyzed Twitter accounts of a few Indian politicians with highest number of followers using tools available on the web to see if Twitter will indeed have any impact on the coming elections. Here’s what we found.

  • While Twitter has become an important platform of political discourse, the site in itself will have very little direct impact on the elections, especially at the local level. This is because local leaders have only a few hundred followers and very little presence on Twitter.
  • National leaders often tend to use Twitter to repeat information already available in public instead of creating new discussions. The medium is also not exploited to its full as most leaders use it to air their views but do not engage in a dialogue with their followers.
  • Central leaders have way more followers than local leaders. However, the number of fake followers for central leaders is way higher than that of local leaders. Local leaders have very little to say on Twitter.
  • Local leaders in Karnataka have insignificant presence on Twitter. They rarely Tweet or respond to Tweets. While they have lesser number of fake followers, most of their followers tend to be inactive.
  • Shashi Tharoor, Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have the highest number of fake followers. Shashi Tharoor has 63% fake followers while Narendra Modi has 70 % fake followers. Of all the politicians we analyzed, Digvijay Singh & Derek O’Brien had the percentage of fake followers (Update: It was wrongly mentioned here that Derek O’Brien has 4% fake followers. It should have been 40%.)

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9 out of 13 politicians with highest number of followers analyzed by us have more than 50 % fake followers. On an average, 50% of all followers of the 13 top central leaders on twitter are fake and 31% are inactive.

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The only way Twitter is going to have an impact on local elections is when things said on Twitter are picked up by mass media outlets like Television and Print. Such controversies tend to have an impact but otherwise, the numbers are too small to have a significant impact.

What are your thoughts? Isn’t it time for Twitter to go after such fake accounts (or do such numbers add up to valuation)?

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