The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) in London has recently published the results of the investigation about the authenticity of the accounts following the superstars of sport and showbusiness on Instagram and Twitter. One hundred of the most popular have been included.
To examine the authenticity of the accounts, the authors of the report used algorithms – IG Audit for Instagram and Sparktoro for Twitter. Both tools allow to analyse on your own the authenticity of the accounts following any public profiles on both social networks. They take in account such factors as the account name, profile picture, location, activity or key words indicating spam in the bio. The results were given separately for Instagram and Twitter as well as for the total amount of the followers – real and fake (the final percentage is not the average of the percentages from both websites but the percentage of all followers together).
The celebrity the most “infected” with fake accounts is Toni Kroos, German footballer playing for Real Madrid. Over the half of over 14.5 mln of his followers on Instagram and Twitter is fake (accordingly 57% on Instagram and 36% on Twitter). The first place from the showbusiness is occupied by famous Canadian TV presenter and showman Ellen DeGeneres. On Instagram she has the highest numer of fake followers on the entire list – 58%. On Twitter 41%. In total, fake accounts following her on both websites consist 49% of all. However, she has a lot more fans in total than Kroos – over 75 mln.
Following, there are Isco, another Real Madrid player and Luka Modrić, also playing for Los Blancos, each one with 49% of fake followers. From the showbusiness, the second place belongs to the Korean group BTS (47% of fake followers). Right behind them there is Kourtney Kardashian. Almost a half (49%) of the Instagram followers of the a little less-known Kardashian sister (48.5 mln on Twitter and Instagram in comparison with Khloe’s 53.5 mln and Kim’s 87.5 mln) is fake. The other two have “only” 43% of fake followers each.
There is a visible tendency to have far more fake followers on Instagram rather than on Twitter. It can be due to better algorithms identifying and banning such activity, but also due to a different business scheme. The problem is not limited to the superstars. Starting publishing on Instagram, it is almost impossible not to come by an offer of buying followers. Their number determines the possibility of contract negotiation with companies; therefore, it is a flourishing business which tempts many influencers.
These results have double meaning for the information security. In the first place, celebrities recently become more and more engaged in politics and their unnaturally inflated popularity can lead to spreading such content, which often tends to be fake news. Even more importantly, this mechanism is not limited to showbusiness and sport. Stop Fake journalists have analised some accounts of the political persons using the same tools. For instance, 70% of the Donald Trump Twitter followers were classified by the algorithm as fake (only 33% of fakes on Instagram). Barack Obama has 45% of fake followers. Fake or inactive accounts can be used at some point. We have mentioned the dangers of being followed by bots in the context of the European Parliament elections
From the above, we can clearly see that virtually the half of the official profiles’ followers, does not matter if they belong to politicians, sportsmen or celebrities, are fake or inactive accounts. The scale is huge and evokes questions about the authenticity of the Internet life.