Bizarre behaviour of TIG’s Twitter follower numbers

Quitter MP group’s Twitter follower data suggests followers bought or created to prevent falls in the total – but with the clumsy execution

The Twitter account of ‘The Independent Group’ of MPs, set up in February, has exhibited strange behaviour in its follower count that appears to speak volumes about the group’s claims to be ‘dump[ing] the old politics’.

The account’s Twitter following rose quickly after the group’s formation – but then plateaued and began to rise and fall – or at least its number of genuine followers did. And it followed a strange track.

The phenomenon was first spotted in March, via ‘audits’ of the group’s followers – and a pattern was quickly apparent. The audit of the group’s followers a couple of weeks ago showed a curious balance:

TIG’s Twitter audit results 20 and 21 March

The total number of followers was 205,737 – of which 5,143 were identifiable at audit as fakes.

But 25 hours later, the number of genuine followers had fallen by 823 – while the number of fake followers had risen. By exactly the same number – maintaining the total at 205,737.

While it’s highly unlikely that an account with such a number of followers would spend twenty-five hours with exactly the same number, it could be a coincidence – and the change in fake followers might be a measuring glitch in the audit software.

But an audit shortly afterward showed the same pattern. The total number of followers had gone up by seven hundred or so – but then stuck at that number over a period of over two days.

And the account still showed the same mirroring in the rise/fall of fake/real followers:

Across the period of two days and three hours, the total followers remained exactly static – while the number of genuine followers fell each time it was measured, by exactly the same as the number of fake followers rose.

And the pattern has been maintained. An increase in total followers, followed by a plateau involving mirrored changes in real and fakes – as the audit conducted yesterday showed:

This time, over a period of a week, the total follower number remained unchanged, while the number of real and fake followers moved the same distance but in opposite directions – by 218.

It appears that someone is adding fake followers to the account each time the number of real followers drops.

The SKWAWKBOX wrote to the quitters’ press office email address, pointing out the strange pattern and asking the following questions:

  • why is TIG adding fake followers to offset losses – or paying someone to do so?
  • who is doing the work and how is it being funded?
  • How is such obvious image management part of ‘dump[ing] the old politics’?
  • if TIG is faking its follower account to avoid an impression of dwindling public interest, why should the public trust that anything else you say or do is genuine?

There was no response.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The quitter group has applied to become a political party – named ‘Change UK’, leading to hilarity as a petition company by the same name threatened legal action.

But it appears action should be taken for false advertising, because the ‘Tiggers’ demonstrate exactly the same superficiality, spin and desperate image-management that characterised Blair’s Labour and the Tories under Cameron and now May.

That is clear from more than just their Twitter account, of course – but it’s a perfect illustration, as is the group’s failure to respond with any substance to any difficult questions.

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21 responses to “Bizarre behaviour of TIG’s Twitter follower numbers

  1. I’d worry about Labour’s numbers if I was you. I’ve finally decided to leave the Labour Party and, yes, some of you on here can take some credit for it.

    • When I resigned from the Party 20 years ago in protest over tuition fees I have to say that even I was not deluded enough to imagine that I was part of a movement that would bring the Labour Party to its knees.
      Indeed those days the membership figure was well below the half million plus that it currently stands at. So no worries the remaining 549,999 or so of us will just try and struggle along without you. Thanks for your concern anyway.

    • Let me get your hat and coat for you and don’t let the door hit you on the way out – we have enough Rightwing austerity loving members as it is, so pleased you have left for other pastures, no doubt the TIGS or Tory Party.

    • It’s a pity you’ve decided to leave and regrettable but that’s your choice Joe and yours alone , not for us here to be blamed for your choice . If you can’t take criticism then that’s up to you and maybe in that case you shouldn’t be commenting on blog sites they are not always pleasant arenas .
      I wish you well in whatever party you support in the future but non will have as good a heart or set of policies as Labour .

    • Goodbye, you evidently have a thin skin and lack the ability to fight your corner.

    • I’m here to read Skwawkbox’s take on the news, learn from the comments of others and express my own.
      One thing sadly lacking is the ability to search previous comments by user name – I’ve disagreed ‘violently’ with more people than I can remember (Bad memory, not innately evil) but don’t remember who, so – I hope you find somewhere more congenial.
      I wouldn’t even leave here because of a row (tough, xxxxxxx… eat me) and like most here, only a lurch to the right by Labour would make me leave.

    • Hey Joe….stay, but if Yvette Cooper, Keir Starmer & Tom Watson take the Labour Party down the road of campaigning to Remain & Jenny Formby/NEC refuse to revoke IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism, I will be forced to conclude that the Labour Party is still a Blairite, Bourgeois, Zionist political party……..then I will join you, post betrayal.

  2. I have no idea how fake accounts are created and no idea how they’re detected.
    I would normally assume that IT people who know how to do one would also know how to do the other.
    If they’re easily detected it would be profoundly stupid of anyone to fake accounts – not to mention the stupidity of failing to randomise the numbers created so as not to replace those lost by exactly the same number.
    Hard to believe that they’d be that stupid but then I do tend to overestimate the intelligence of people possessing skills I lack – and there were those Tory election scams so poorly planned and executed they just begged to be discovered.
    Or maybe not so hard to believe now I remember “someone” at Umunna’s office doctoring his Wikipedia page to nominate him for a Nobel Prize or some such.
    Maybe that IT genius massaged the numbers without Umunna’s knowledge. Again 🙂
    And the “British Barack Obama” delusion. Oh, and his “Harrison” alias calling everybody else in the West End “trash and C-list wannabes” on the rich boys’ facebook while flaunting his (really quite modest) inherited wealth and privilege as widely as possible.

    • (Anti) Social media is full of traps for the unwary. Interesting that one tenacious pursuer of the fakery – Asa Winstanley has been suspended from the Party because he actually pinned down the fraud of supposed ‘antisemitism’ comments.

      My solution is to ignore the tedium of both Facebook and Twitter.

  3. IMO the only figures that count are those on the voting cards at the GE.if we are lucky enough to get a GE soon the Tinge I hope will be dust

  4. Interesting. Could have been a coincidence for one reading but not several, they are clearly rigging their follower count.

    The IndGroup are staunch remainers who claim people’s views have changed about leaving the EU. If that were true they would enjoy organic growth, not be losing so many followers that they have to fraudulently manipulate their twitter account to hide the loss.

    • Exactly IA. The same is true of the party. If 99% of Labour voters (or whatever the figure’s supposed to be) supported remain, the party policy would be solidly remain. Back in the real world we know when we’re being stiffed by a load of digital marketing wonks bought and paid for by global corporates.

  5. ‘dump[ing] the old politics’….Yeah, alright then.

    Like their twitter follower figures, their politics are immutable from the same tired arld shite weve had to endure since 1979.

    ‘Dumping on the old politics’ indeed, Jesus H Navas, these insufferable haemorrhoids must think we plebs must’ve landed down on earth within the last rain shower.

    I’d happily take a dump on them and their (same) old politics. A right bunch of misifits and weirdos.

  6. “It appears that someone is adding fake followers to the account each time the number of real followers drops.”

    You do not have to have a someone to do this. The oftware can be written to produce the outcome required quite simply.

    You can fool some of the people, etc, etc, but not all of the people all of the time.

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