Social Slipups: President Obama's Twitter Problem

With a focus on social media blunders, Twitter gaffes, and Facebook faux pas, we’ll be profiling one politician, political figure, organization, or candidate who has committed one of the social media sins in our weekly series Social Slipups. 

With all this talk about Romney’s mysterious jump in Twitter followers, it’s only fair to take a look at Barack Obama’s Twitter account. Upon closer examination, The Hill reports that while Presidenta Obama far surpasses Romney in Twitter followers, more of them are fake.

Barack Obama has over 18.5 million Twitter followers. Of those, StatusPeople finds that 41 percent are fake, 29 percent are not active tweeters, leaving 30 percent to be presumably real. Mitt Romney has 864,393 followers on Twitter, of which 12 percent are presumed to be fake, 30 percent inactive, leaving 58 percent as “good” Twitter users.

What does this mean? While Romney trails Obama in numbers, percentage wise, he is doing a pretty good job appealing to users on Twitter. Obama, however, is still reaching far more people – close to 6 million real users. Romney’s reach has yet to hit 500,000 users.

Numbers aside, both candidates maintain low levels of engagement on their Twitter accounts, mainly using the social platform to share information, not to interact with followers.

What’s the price for fake followers? As low as 0.2 cents each.

“This is one reason that the prices of followers vary dramatically on eBay and other online websites, ranging from $2 to $55 per 1,000 followers,” Jason Ding, a research scientist at Barracuda explains in a blog post. “The higher the price is, the more real these followers look.”

And as we reported last week, Twitter isn’t the only social network ridled with fake accounts:

Facebook recently filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in April that approximately 8.7 percent of their accounts are “fake”, adding up to a huge number of 83 million fraudulent users.

Do you think acquiring “fake followers” on Twitter is a social slipup? Does it detract from the overall effectiveness of the social network?