Are you a social media superstar, or is your Twitter feed just a soapbox for a soulless animatronic audience? StatusPeople is a humbling web application that reveals the percentage of followers that are fake or inactive. Obama has a whopping 31% fake followers (or 6 million of 19 million), Twitter queen, Lady Gaga, has 27%–which makes us feel like a people magnet with a comparatively tiny 20%. Twitter occasionally cleanses its universe of robots with a mass purge, but is clearly struggling to keep up a motivated army of spammers and purchased accounts.
“There’s a tremendous cachet associated with having a large number,” comedian Dan Nainan told The New York Times, after admitting to buying 220,000 fake followers. “When people see that you have that many followers, they’re like: ‘Oh, my goodness, this guy is popular. I might want to book him.” Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney have both been accused of trying to appear more tech-savvy by buying their way to fame. It’s unclear whether Romney or someone else paid for his followers, but a massive spike in his social media popularity earlier this Summer was definitely at odds with his stagnant poll numbers.
Not all celebrity accounts with loads of robotic followers have scrupulously bought their way to fame. In many cases, famous people are a tempting target for spammers hocking their message via @replys, or are simply just popular with the roughly half of Twitter accounts that tried out social networking and never came back (numbers current as of 2011).
StatusPeople, and the headlines it’s generated, may drive more people to alternative metrics of popularity, such as Klout, which quantifies follower engagement in addition to volume. But, such measures are rife with inaccuracies.
In reality, maybe some robot love isn’t all that bad. When MIT developed one of the first artificial intelligence systems, ELIZA, some users began to show actual affection for the simple question-and-answer software. Or, you can always move to Japan, snag a robot girlfriend, and share your most intimate moments with your fake followers.
[Image Credit: Softicons]