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92 percent of Gingrich’s Twitter followers are fake, search firm says

Newt Gringrich’s campaign denies the allegations, claiming they never used “agencies” to inflate the presidential candidate’s Twitter follower numbers.

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Former U.S. Speaker of the House and Republican candidate for president Newt Gingrich speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference on June 16, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

A social media analytics site says that 92 percent of Newt Gingrich’s 1.3 million Twitter followers are fake. The New York-based company, PeekYou, used an algorithm to evaluate whether Gringrich’s followers were real individuals, ABC News reports. It found most of Gringrich’s followers were business accounts, private accounts, anonymous accounts with no other web presence or spambots.

The company was inspired to investigate Gingrich’s Twitter account after a Gawker article quoted an unnamed former aide who’d left Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign team as saying 80 percent of Gingrich’s Twitter followers are fake. The anonymous ex-staffer told the web site:

“About 80 percent of those accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various "follow agencies," another 10 percent are real people who are part of a network of folks who follow others back and are paying for followers themselves (Newt's profile just happens to be a part of these networks because he uses them, although he doesn't follow back), and the remaining 10 percent may, in fact, be real, sentient people who happen to like Newt Gingrich. If you simply scroll through his list of followers you'll see that most of them have odd usernames and no profile photos, which has to do with the fact that they were mass generated.”

Gingrich’s campaign has denied the accusations. “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.

Gingrich has used Twitter since 2009, and announced his candidacy for president on the service in May. He bragged to the Marietta Daily-Journal last week that he has six times as many Twitter followers as all the other GOP candidates combined.

He’s listed on Twitter as a "suggested user," a high-profile designation that attracts a large number of followers, CBS News reports. Still, some find it suspicious that he has twice as many followers as Sarah Palin.

PeekYou has also analyzed the Twitter accounts of the other Republican presidential hopefuls, according to Gawker, and has found that Gingrich is not the only GOP politician with a large spambot following. PeekYou claims that only 20 percent of Sarah Palin’s followers, 26 percent of Mitt Romney’s followers, 28 percent of Michele Bachmann’s followers and 32 percent of Tim Pawlenty’s followers are real humans.