Boris Johnson is way out in front of other leaders when it comes to fake Twitter followers, a new analysis has revealed.
Thirty-four per cent of the prime minister’s 1.25 million Twitter followers were found to be fake accounts or bots – the highest of a current party leader out of all the main UK parties.
This puts his real follower count somewhere around 825,000.
Just behind him on the list is Nigel Farage, of whose followers 32% are fakes.
The research comes at a time when Twitter has banned political advertising and organic reach is key to the digital campaign battleground.
The leader with the most authentic Twitter base is Jeremy Corbyn, 81% of whose 2.2 million followers are real users of the social media platform – leaving him with a healthy 1.78 million real people signed up for his tweets.
The Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson also has a nearly 80% real follower count, while SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has around 73% real followers.
The Conservative Party’s hyper-enthusiastic social media following has aroused comment before, such as in October when one of the prime minister’s ‘People’s PMQs’ on Facebook received rapturous and oddly samey comments from hundreds of accounts.
‘Brilliant, Boris!’: Army of Facebook commenters all say the same thingsThe research, from digital marketing company ICS-digital, identified that fake followers is endemic across the political spectrum.
Out of candidates, former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron was found to have the highest percentage of fake followers on Twitter – almost 65% of his 295,000 followers. Across all parties, Labour was found to have the most fakes between all its candidates.
Following Twitter’s ban on political advertising, having extra followers could be a considerable boon in amplifying a candidate’s perceived popularity.