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Opinion Editorials

What you should know about the fake Twitter followers debacle

As the public learns that Obama and Romney’s Twitter follower count is full of fake accounts, the sentiment reveals that consumers want their leaders, and even service providers to have a clean Twitter record that can be trusted.

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fake twitter accounts

Headlines read “Obama and Romney guilty of fake Twitter followers.”

You’ve heard and read the headlines about the sins of buying fake Twitter followers, and how top politicians like President Obama and Governor Romney have trumped up their Twitter follower counts by buying fake followers in bulk. The talking heads are using it to point out how truly social many people are (or are not), and screaming that there have been injustices committed here, as people see large follower counts and believe that individual or brand to be more relevant and more followed than they really are.

So what? Who cares? Were you really going to vote for a candidate because they were good at Twitter? Then I’m not talking to you anyway, move along.

What does matter is that with this new “Fake Follower Check” by StatusPeople, anyone can verify what percentage of fake, inactive, and good followers they have, which is the basis of the recent outcry against users with a high percentage of fake followers, which typically indicates that user has purchased their followers, and have not had legitimate people follow their account, thus tricking people into thinking they are more influential than they really are.

The caveat to using the Fake Follower Check is that you should understand that the results are only a sample of a portion of a user’s followers, with an extrapolation of relative percentages across the entire data sample (in other words, it doesn’t look at every single follower, it takes an average). Most experts are buying into the tool as relatively accurate.

Below, we have done our own sampling, including all of our own personal and business Twitter accounts, as well as many social media gurus, celebrities, and a select few brands for comparison sake. The following is listed in order of the percentage of fake followers from the cleanest account to the dirtiest (my words, not StatusPeoples’):

fake twitter accounts

Reading the data

Since the world is in the mood to rely on a sample, so shall we. It is interesting to note that the only two private accounts in the above list are my own, and our CEO’s account – the only two 0% fake accounts we came across (although, I’ll be honest, our research only included 50 accounts). I have personally been chastised for having a private account (which I have due to a stalker, but let’s not get derailed here), but maybe the fact that I manually approve, and more importantly, ignore follower requests is a way to keep my account relatively “clean.” I believe more people will go private as the years go on, in an effort to take control of their account.

Another way to keep fake followers at bay is to regularly groom your Twitter account so that you are really only interacting with real, active users, by using ManageFlitter which lets you unfollow inactive users, people not following you back, and even people with no profile picture (a decent indicator that it is fake or inactive).

It is interesting that Facebook, YouTube, Klout, and even Twitter itself have many, many fake followers. That is not always the case with brands in general, so it caught our attention that social networks should be the experts in social networking, but alas, they have gotten caught up in the follower count mania just as their users have – not the best example to set. Innocent enough, but still not exactly ivory tower material.

From the above data, it should be noted that most of the accounts that have high counts of inactive users have been on Twitter for many years, as opposed to new users, and many of their original followers have fallen away. There are likely two camps when it comes to people with high levels of inactive followers: those having to rest on their laurels of old followers due to early Twitter popularity that has fizzled, and those who used to be suggested users to new accounts when Twitter promoted individuals more obviously than they do now. Guy Kawasaki is a great example of the later.

We were fascinated that StatusPeople had a massively high percentage of fake followers, but as they explain on their blog, someone punked them buy buying them 20,000 followers, which has actually prompted the company to make a followup tool that helps remove fake followers from your Twitter account, in the event that you, someone on your staff, or an anonymous enemy buys fake followers for your account.

The takeaway

Yes, people buy fake Twitter followers, especially people whose job is to be liked and trusted (ahem, politicians), but many people used to be suggested users that were automatically followed by new Twitter accounts that were either fake to begin with or have gone dormant. As for you, keep a clean account in the event someone digs around for your name, particularly clients. This “trick” of finding how “clean” your account is is not a techie tool, and we suspect that with the rise of Klout and other social verification tools, these numbers might actually matter as they go mainstream, so use a tool like ManageFlitter to stay above board.

What you really need to know is that the public is finally catching on to the concept that quantity may not always trump quality, even in social media follower counts, and the visceral reaction to the fake followers on Romney and Obama’s trumped up follower counts should show you the common sentiment on the topic. Keep it clean, folks.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. MonicaMo

    August 28, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Very cool!  Good to know…I’ve always wondered if there was a way to track this type of activity.

  2. MonicaMo

    August 28, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Very cool!  Good to know…I’ve always wondered if there was a way to track this type of activity.

  3. beachtowne

    August 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

    As someone who has been on Twitter for 3 years or more, it seems that the original ethos of Twitter (follow back) has been lost. We now see a large majority of Twitter users with as few as 1000 followers going back and unfollowing a large percent of the accounts that they follow.They are emulating the “celebrities” they see do it.
     
    Are we now expecting accounts with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of followers to qualify their followers, and spend time deleting those who aren’t “up to snuff”?  And what constitiutes value? Has it occurred to anyone that some people’s activity on twitter may consist of merely checking their time line to see what Guy Kawasaki, Mariah Cary and Mitt Romney’s accounts are tweeting today?
     
    As for the assumption that eggs = fake, I’d bet that 15% of the people on twitter wouldn’t know how to post an avatar if you offered to pay them to do so.
     
    Also- I’m wondering…
    If your headline is “Headlines read Obama and Romney guilty of fake Twitter followers”, why not include those two accounts in the 50 you reviewed?
     

  4. JoeHefferon

    August 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Lani,
    Very interesting article. I’m glad the public is finally catching on to celebs & business people who stroke their egos with fake followers. Full disclosure; when I was brand new I bought some to begin to establish a presence and not realizing they would be inactive. I since regret it and would never do it again. Thanks for making the time to put this report together. All the best…

  5. DonaldDobbie

    October 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Lani,
     
    I’m happy that people are finally coming to their senses with regard to “fake followers”. For the people that need to keep their Twitter account but dump the fakes there is a great tool to do it with https://www.twitblock.org Unfortunately, it’s still a manual process and could take several hours to remove a few thousand fake followers(one click at a time). The alternative is; pay someone to remove them for you like with this Fiverr gig https://5rr.biz/s/3mmgr9 Either way, in my opinion there is a limited amount of time for people to SAVE THEMSELVES from massive public embarrassment (being exposed as a fraud in front of ALL of their REAL followers). The more that products like Status People catch on, the more people will be caught looking foolish.
     
    Thank you for writing this article.
    All the best,
    Don

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Opinion Editorials

Before you quit your job, ask yourself these 5 questions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Frustrated at work? Here are 5 ideas utilizing design thinking and exploration tactics to assess if you really are ready to quit your job.

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Man reclining on beanbag with laptop, thoughtful. Considering tactics before you quit your job.

We have all been there. We are in a job that just doesn’t feel right for us. Maybe we strongly dislike our manager or even our day to day work responsibilities. We find it easy to blame everyone else for everything we dislike. We question life and ask “Is this what life is all about? Shouldn’t I be spending my time doing something I am more passionate about?” But, we probably like the regular paycheck… Thus, we stay there and possibly become more miserable by the day. Some of us may even start to feel physical symptoms of headaches, stomach aches, and possibly depression. We also may go to the internet like this person seeking answers and hoping someone else can tell us what to do:

“I feel conflicted but I want to quit my job. What should I do?

I was thinking of quitting my job because I dislike what I do, and I feel I am underpaid.

However last week my colleague tendered her resignation too. Needless to say, if I leave too, my whole department will fall into a larger mess and that causes some feelings of conflict within me.

Should my colleague quitting affect when I want to leave too? How do I go about quitting now?”

We can definitely empathize with this – it’s really uncomfortable, sometimes sad, and hard to be in a position where we feel we are underpaid and we aren’t happy.

So, how can you navigate a situation like this? How do you figure out if you should just quit your job? How can you be an adult about this?

Here are some exploratory questions, ideas, and some design thinking activities to help you answer this question for yourself.

  • Before you up and quit, assuming you don’t yet have your next opportunity lined up, have you considered asking for a raise – or better yet, figure out how you add value to the organization? Would your supervisor be willing to move you in to a new role or offer additional compensation?
  • If you don’t have a job lined up, do you have the recommended AT LEAST six months of living expenses in your savings account? Some would recommend that you have even more during a global pandemic where unemployment is at an all-time high – it may take longer to find a new position.
  • Do you have a safety net of family or friends that are willing and able to help you with your bills if you don’t have your regular paycheck? Would you be willing to put that burden on them so you can quit your job?
  • Why aren’t you job searching if you are unhappy? Is it because the task seems daunting and the idea of interviewing right now makes you want to puke?
  • What would your ideal job be and what would it take for you to go for it?

Many people claim they don’t like their job but they don’t know what to do next or even worse, don’t know what they WANT to do. To offer a little bit of tough love here: Well, then, that’s your job to figure it out. You can go on Reddit all you want, but no one else can tell you what is right for you.

Here are some ways to explore what may be an exciting career move for you or help you identify some areas that you need to learn more about in order to figure out where work will align with your skills, interests, and passions.

  1. Consider ordering the Design Your Life Workbook that provides writing prompts to help you figure out what it is that you are looking for in a job/career. You may also like the book Designing Your Work Life which is about “How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work”.
  2. Utilize design thinking to answer some of your questions. Make a diamond shape and in each of the four corners, write out the “Who” you want to be working with, “What” you’d like to be doing, “Where” you’d like to be, and “Why” you want to be there or doing that kind of work.
  3. Conduct informational interviews with people doing work that you think you might be interested in. Usually these conversations give you lots of interesting insights and either a green light to pursue something or validation that maybe that role isn’t right for you either.
  4. Get your resume updated. Sometimes just dusting off your resume, updating it, and making it ready gives you a feeling of relief that if you did really want to pursue a new job, you are almost ready. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile as well.
  5. Explore what you can do differently. A lot of what we can be frustrated about can be related to things out of our control. Consider exploring ways to work better with your team or how to grow to become invaluable. Tune in to Lindsey Pollak’s podcast, The Work Remix, where she gives great ideas on how to navigate working in current times where there are five generations in the workplace. There may be ways you need to adjust your communication style or tune in to emotional intelligence on how to better work with your supervisor or employees. Again, focus on what is within your control.

You may decide that you need to quit your job to be able to focus your energy on finding a better fit for you. But at the same time, be realistic. Most of us have to work to live. Everyone has bills, so you may continue working while you sort out some of the other factors to help you find a more exciting prospect. Either way, wishing you all the best on this journey, and the time and patience to allow you to figure it out.

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Opinion Editorials

New USPS duck-shaped truck design has mixed reactions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The USPS is getting a fleet of electronic delivery vehicles. We’re wondering if the actual design got lost in the mail.

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New USPS truck in a fictional neighborhood delivering mail.

So the USPS is getting new trucks and they look like ducks and maybe that sucks… or maybe it wucks. Like “works,” if a duck said it. Just give me this one please.

Anyway.

I don’t know how mean I can be here – there has to be something said for objective journalistic integrity – but I have a feeling most people are going to have a rather sarcastic reaction to the new design. I’m not so sure I can blame them – it has a kind of stubby little nose with a shortened hood and a boxy frame and super tall windshield, which gives the wheels a disproportionately large look compared to the rest of the silhouette. It’s sort of like a Nissan Cube but less millennial cool, which A) is discontinued (so maybe not so cool), and B) is not the car that had those giant hiphop hamsters running around, but I’m still going to link to it anyway.

Elon Musk must be breathing a sigh of relief right now.

The contract was awarded to Oshkosh Defense (which I was thrilled to find out is NOT the adorable kid’s clothing company, even though I personally think that would be hilarious if there was a factory making overalls for tiny humans alongside tactical defense trucks) and officially announced on February 23rd, 2021 to the tune of $482 million. Seriously though, someone is going to mix those up for the rest of all time and eternity; I’d never not think about my own baby pictures if some contractor from Oshkosh Defense showed up.

The release mentions that, “The historic investment is part of a soon-to-be-released plan the Postal Service has developed to transform its financial performance and customer service over the next 10 years through significant investments in people, technology and infrastructure as it seeks to become the preferred delivery service provider for the American public.” It’s called the NGDV – Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, which I happen to adore, and will pronounce as Nugduv, and you can’t stop me anyway. The old one was called the Grumman, by the way.

Some credit this as a radical change, and keeping in mind that radical doesn’t necessarily denote positive or negative, it seems like the perfect word to use here. Then there are those who correctly identify “a mixed bag of responses,” sort of like when you get a bag of candy at Halloween that has at least one thing no one likes. Some call it strange, while others defend it as something every new big vehicle should look like (this is where – as one of many – I found it called a “duck” which oh man do I love, quack quack).

We can also hit up the ever fair public opinion of Twitter, because why wouldn’t we?

JavaScript is not available.

This is how I would draw a car. That is not a plus for this design

I really can’t get over that last one. But I mean, whoa. That’s quite the spectrum. There’s less disagreement on pizza toppings I think. But luckily I think we’re safe there – Domino’s makes people drive their personal cars.

Taking a step back and putting snide commentary away for a moment, there’s some areas that should be discussed. First – and what should probably be obvious – there was a laundry list of requirements and restrictions from the USPS, which made Nir Kahn – design director from custom carmaker Plasan – offer up his own tweets that give some insight on dimensions and design:

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I was involved in an early proposal for the USPS truck so I know the requirements well. They pretty much dictated the proportions – this package sketch shows that to meet the ergonomic and size requirements, there wasn’t much freedom 1/2 #USPS pic.twitter.com/Fk35g98Z83

Kahn mentions that “there wasn’t much freedom,” but also that “it could have looked much better,” and this sort of underlines the entire discussion I think – there were goals in place, and possibly some more aesthetically pleasing ways to meet them, but the constraints won out and drove (hehe) the design more than style did.

Certainly, there are other concerns – the ability for USPS drivers to reach a mailbox while seated is paramount. Others have pointed out that this design – with its large windshield and shortened front – should help with safety around small children (all the better if they are wearing Oshkosh B’gosh, because that implies they are tiny and may not be at all concerned with the dangers of streets). The open field-of-vision will aid in making sure drivers can navigate places that might be frequented by any number of pedestrians, so that’s a plus.

Further, if you get struck by one of these, you’ll basically “just” get kneecapped versus taking it square to the torso. The duck article is the one making this call, and I think there’s some merit there (though it makes me question how the USPS fleet is going to do against the SUVs and big trucks out in the wild). It then goes on to point out that this design has more cargo space, fitting into the idea of “rightsizing,” where the form and function of the vehicle meet in a way that is downsized, but still punches above its weight.

“From smaller fire engines to nimbler garbage trucks, making vehicles better scaled to urban tasks can make a huge difference, not only for keeping other cars moving on narrow streets, but also to ensure that humans on those same streets can access the bike lanes, sidewalks, and curb cuts they need to get around.”

I didn’t try too hard to find stats on crashes in mail trucks, but seems like something that should be addressed.

Maybe the biggest point here is that we sort of have to get new trucks – they are outliving their 24 year expectancy and catching on fire. On FIRE. I mean a mail truck might be the worst place for a fire. I’m not even sure I can’t think up a better answer… Ok maybe toilets would be worse.

The new vehicles can be either petrol or electric powered, have 360 cameras, airbags, and automatic braking. Oh, and air conditioning, which the old vehicles did not have. So yes, literally the worst place to have a fire. But due to the taller vehicles, someone can stand in them now! So escape is even easier! Hooray!

A series of delays pushed back the introduction of new vehicles from their 2018 projected date, with poor initial prototypes and the pandemic being major setbacks. Aggressive bidding led to extended deadlines, which had been narrowed down to a small list of candidates that included Workhorse (who unfortunately suffered a large stock plunge following the announcement). It’s been in the works for at least six years.

In the end, I don’t think we can discount all the advantages here – more efficient vehicles that are safer and provide drivers with modern amenities. That’s a LOT of good. I think once the initial goofy shock is over, the design will be accepted. Everyone thought Nintendo’s Wii was a hilarious name (still pretty much is regardless of being in the public book of acceptable nomenclature), and Cybertruck sales are brisk, so I think we can set a lot of this aside. The Edsel these are not.

So hey, new USPS vehicles in 2023, like an exceedingly late birthday present. All I want to see is a bunch of baby ducks following one of them around oh please let that happen. The USPS kind of has an identity crisis in the modern era, so maybe a funny little cute silly boxmobile is just the right way to get some attention.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, or an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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