Politicians’ social media followers are too good to be true

A LARGE proportion of the social media "followers" of Australian political heavyweights have been found to be fake, but here on the Northern Rivers our relationship with pollies is decidedly authentic.

According to online tool StatusPeople, the Twitter accounts of Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and other prominent politicians are being targeted by "spam bots", which piggy-back off pollie popularity for their own marketing gain.

About 40% of the most recent 50,000 Twitter followers of each of Australia's four most popular politicians - Rudd, Abbott, Turnbull and Gillard - aren't real, compared with just 10% of Janelle Saffin's and 2% of Justine Elliot's Twitter fans.

Of all the federal politicians, Mr Abbott had the highest proportion of fake recent followers, with 41%, followed closely by Ms Gillard and Mr Turnbull who both had 40% fake followers.

According to StatusPeople, on average 12% of politicians' followers are fake, 25% are inactive and 63% active.

Our iPad Mayor, Lismore's Jenny Dowell, who is well-known for her mastery of social media, has only 3% fake followers.

"I know there are pro CSG/conservative political people who follow me and send disparaging tweets, but I won't follow them back and I don't respond to their tweets or retweet," she said.

"I use Twitter to promote Lismore and to comment on social issues (occasionally AFL) and try not to be party political. I like to follow real people and usually check out their profile before I follow them.

"Facebook is much more useful because it reaches more local people, especially young people, but I do enjoy Twitter, too."