Is Newt Gingrich Paying For Thousands Of Fake Twitter Followers?

In an anonymous interview with Gawker on Monday, an ex-campaign staffer for Republican Newt Gingrich said that the majority of his million-plus followers on Twitter were not actually real – they were bought and paid for to pad his Twitter bottom line.

If you visit Gingrich’s Twitter profile (@NewtGingrich) today, you’ll see that he has a whopping 1,325,000 or so followers. That is miles and miles beyond the other candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination – Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) has only 63,000 and Michele Bachmann (@MicheleBachmann)is sitting at 66,000.

And, as Gawker noted, Gingrich even complained that people were ignoring just how popular he was on Twitter:

“I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined, but it didn’t count because if it counted I’d still be a candidate; since I can’t be a candidate that can’t count.”

However, all of this Twitter-touting might just be hot air.

An anonymous source who used to work for Gingrich’s campaign told Gawker that the vast majority of his Twitter followers are either dummy accounts created by “follow agencies” to boost paying customers’ follow count, or are part of a network of people who get paid to follow others:

“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.”

So, if these numbers are right, 1,060,000 of Gingrich’s followers are dummy accounts and 132,500 are real people being paid to follow him… and the remaining 132,500 are actually interested in what he has to say.

While this is not verified by anything other than an anonymous source, it is interesting just how far ahead Gingrich is in terms of followers compared to his fellow contenders. More followers doesn’t necessarily mean more influence, however, but Gingrich’s Klout score isn’t too shabby: he is sitting at 71 Klout, while Romney has 70 and Bachmann has 72.