Researchers in Italy have announced that they have found evidence that celebrities and public figures have very suspicious follower growth on their Twitter accounts suggesting that these accounts may be buying followers to inflate their Twitter status.
Previously the same group of researchers told how they had found that there is a growing market for fake Twitter followers and now similar charges are being launched against celebrity Twitter accounts by the researchers.
Researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli told the New York Times in a report that they are questioning the authenticity of Twitter followers for well known people and also for companies.
Some of the accounts under scrutiny include those for the rapper and music personality Sean “Diddy” Combs, rapper 50 Cent, the soft drink brand Pepsi, car company Mercedes-Benz and even the Prime Minister of Russia.
The researchers said that they were looking at specific accounts that showed massive spikes in follows or unfollows and while the evidence is purely circumstantial it may suggest that some of these brands and public figures may have used fake followers and other means to boost their following on Twitter.
An example of a massive spoke in followers can be shown through the account of Sean “Diddy” Combs. The researchers found that he has 8.2 million followers and tweets under @iamdiddy but on one day in June last year his number of followers grew by a massive 185,000 followers in a single day. This number is put into perspective by seeing that this is a more than 3,000 percent increase on his usual daily gain in followers.
While the Sean Combs account may have massive highs it has also shown huge dips with the account losing 393,665 followers in a single day last month with no obvious reason why.
The New York Times attempted to contact Sean Combs about the twitter numbers but he did not return their call it is reported.
Many may not be surprised by the findings of the research especially following the news that of the 200 million Twitter accounts in use it is estimated that as many as 20 million of these accounts could be fake.
Fake Twitter accounts and followers is a booming business and is estimated to be worth between $40 million and $360 million.
A spokesman from Twitter told the New York Times: “spam is a problem that faces the entire web” and added that Twitter are working to remove fake accounts from the micro blogging site.