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Twiplomacy Did Not Conduct Any Study To Determine Fake Followers Among World Leaders in 2018

Claim 

A 2018 New Indian Express news report claims that according to a then-recent study by the digital platform, Twiplomacy, 60 percent of PM Narendra Modi’s Twitter followers are fake. We received a link to this news report on our Whatsapp number asking for verification. 

https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2018/mar/14/60-per-cent-of-pm-narendra-modis-twitter-followers-are-fake-twiplomacy-1786939.html

Interestingly, we found this 2018 article being shared on Twitter by many people in the past week. Some of these people are sharing an image from the news report showing the number of fake followers by top world leaders including the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

This news is being circulated by Facebook users in the past week as well. 

Factcheck

As a starting point, let’s note that the New Indian Express story linked to the claim is from 2018. The news report states that a then-recent study by Twiplomacy revealed that 60 percent of PM Narendra Modi’s Twitter followers are fake. It also included that “24,799,527 of Modi’s 40,993,053 followers are fake ones while 16,191,426 are authentic ones.”

Ongoing through studies done in 2018 by Twiplomacy, a digital platform that helps governments and international organisations improve their digital strategy, we couldn’t find any study that included data on fake Twitter followers of top global leaders. 

Although the New Indian Express included a tweet by Twiplomacy which shows that PM Narendra Modi had 60 percent, fake followers, on Twitter. The tweet in its description states that the said fake followers are determined by twitteraudit.com. The tweet doesn’t mention any study done by Twiplomacy to arrive at numbers on fake followers. Below is the tweet in context: 

A 2018 news report by The Week also detailed PM Modi’s fake followers on Twitter. The difference being that this report doesn’t claim that a Twiplomacy study revealed data on PM Modi’s fake following instead it simply states that the digital platform used TwitterAudit to determine the number of fake followers amongst the world leaders. 

https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2018/03/13/modi-has-more-fake-followers-than-donald-trump-on-twitter.html

We got in touch with Twiplomacy who confirmed with us that the February 2018 tweet which includes an infographic about world leaders and their fake Twitter followers was taken from the @GZEROmedia Signal newsletter. You can read their response to us below:

“In February 2018 we shared this tweet with the infographic which was taken  from the @GZEROmedia Signal newsletter showing an analysis from https://Twitteraudit.com. We did not conduct the analysis but simply shared the infographic and somehow the Indian media picked it up claiming we did the analysis…” 

We also wrote to the New Indian Express asking for clarification on the study they referred to in their news report. We haven’t received a response from them yet. We’ll update their response here if we hear from them. 

Conclusion

Twiplomacy did not conduct any study to determine fake Twitter followers among world leaders. In their 2018 tweet, they simply shared an infographic taken from @GZEROmedia which shows the percent of fake followers of five world leaders as well as Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian’s Twitter following for comparison sakes. 

Tools Used

  • Google advanced search
  • Twitter advanced search 

Result: False 

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Nikita Vashisth
Nikita is a writer and editor for English fact-checking. She also leads projects to understand the misinformation and fake-news ecosystem—with an emphasis on data and psychology. Previously, she has worked with IndiaSpend, CNN-News18 and written for Citizen Matters and Mongabay-India on the environment, health, and politics. She’s a postgraduate of the Computational Journalism program at Cardiff University, Wales.

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