Newt Gingrich Campaign Pushes Back on Fake Twitter Followers Accusation

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz ( @arlettesaenz ) reports:

Newt Gingrich’s campaign continued to push back on accusations that many of the presidential candidate’s 1.3 million Twitter followers – the most of any Republican candidate - are actually fake.

“We’ve never utilized firms, agencies, or outside organizations to inflate Newt’s Twitter followers,” R.C. Hammond, press secretary for Newt Gingrich, told ABC News.

A Gawker story released Monday cited an unnamed former staffer as saying 80% of Gingrich’s Twitter followers are fake and Gingrich employed social media agencies to create fake accounts to boost his Twitter following. “Newt employs a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them. As you might guess, Newt is most decidedly one of the people to which these agencies cater,” the unnamed source told Gawker.

Today, PeekYou, a social media analytics site, announced it used an algorithm to evaluate Gingrich’s Twitter followers and found that 92 percent of them are fake.

“Once the news broke yesterday the team went back to look at the report. The data supported that out of Newt’s 1.3 million followers only 8 percent (2 percent less than claimed in recent media reports), are identified by our algorithm as humans, meaning Newt’s follower count is really closer to 106,055,” Michael Hussey, CEO and founder of PeekYou!, said in the company’s blog.

One potential explanation for Gingrich’s large Twitter following is that Twitter has promoted Gingrich as a “suggested user.”

“It's our policy not to comment on specific accounts. In general, though, the suggested user list is a very effective way for people to find you on Twitter, and helps boost follower count,” Jodi Thomas, a spokesman for Twitter, told ABC News in an e-mail Monday.

Other politicians who were featured as suggested followers also have high Twitter followings, including California Lt. Gov and fmr San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom (1,301,946) and John McCain (1,731,074).

In May, Newt Gingrich made history by becoming the first candidate ever to use Twitter to announce his presidential run. At the time of his announcement, Gingrich had 1.3 million followers on Twitter, and since then, the growth in his Twitter following has been stagnant.

Gingrich maintains his own account and has used Twitter since 2009. Gingrich also has over 9600 followers on the new Google+ site and has held two “hangouts,” which are video chat sessions, to talk with potential voters over the internet.

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