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Twitter has 175M users? The scam of the century



Follower counts

In a meeting the other day, someone spoke up and said “yeah, but that guy’s big time, he is all over Twitter! His blog says he has thousands of followers.” We found the person on Twitter and found 1,415 followers which is technically more than a thousand, but less than two thousand. Our first thought was “what a liar” followed by “well maybe he only connects with people he knows in real life” followed by “who cares? The numbers are bunk anyway, half of those are bots.”

So we set out to discover the difference between a user and an active user and what we learned will shock you.

Twitter claims 175 million users

Twitter’s about page claims 175 million registered users. We thought that was a clever way of not claiming legitimacy of users- they’re technically not lying that 175 million accounts exist, but an account is not the same as a user. Period. We questioned how many are actually using Twitter? How many are not just parked handles?

According to a Business Insider report, they engineered a code that would analyze Twitter users’ followers and following stats.

The results were shocking. There were 119 million Twitter accounts following one or more other accounts and 85 million accounts with one or more followers. That’s it.

So of the 175 million “registered” users Twitter attempts to impress the public and investors with, there are 56 million accounts following zero other users and 90 million with zero followers.

The report also revealed that there are 56 million accounts following 8 or more accounts, 38 million following 16 or more and only 12 million following 64 people or more.

We would consider an account following 64 or more an active account, meaning that of the 175 million registered users, only 6.8% are legitimate accounts.

How much has been invested per active user?

Twitter has received $360 million in investment over the years and now has 12 million active users, so if we do a little math, the cost is $30 per head which is a far less appealing proposition than $2.05 per head with 175 million users. Bad news, investors.

Twitter’s value proposition

Recent studies show that 50% of all tweets are produced by less than 0.5% of Twitter users. Some would even argue that the 0.5% is in large part marketers and social media experts, not so much consumers looking to connect.

Facebook now sees over 600,000 visitors monthly from around the globe, half of which visit every single day.

If you’re good at math, you add 12 million legitimate users plus high volume by a low number of users plus Facebook’s superior numbers and your result might be that it’s time to jump off of the Twitter ship.

Although we wouldn’t go that far, we would remind the real estate world that cavorting with peers will close far fewer transactions than really digging deep into Twitter and connecting with locals who share your interests, otherwise time is better spent on Facebook or your traditional marketing efforts.

We know of a few agents whose entire referral base is from Twitter and that is great news, but for people short on time wondering why they haven’t hit a homerun on Twitter yet, it’s because there are NOT 175 million users, there are NOT more than 0.5% of the users even tweeting.

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  1. Mexican From Mars

    April 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

    not so sure about the scam of the century part, as we have a couple of multi-billion dollar wars that we’re in debt for, but i see what you’re saying.

  2. Indianapolis Homes

    April 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I am one of those who actually loves Twitter and will not be jumping ship. Great resource to get my daily Indianapolis real estate news.

  3. Kelly Leeson

    April 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Have to agree with you about connecting with your target audience through twitter or even facebook.
    Both need to be used right and it is difficult to find among the 175m registered accounts the kind of people you need to connect with.

  4. MH for Movoto

    April 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    @Mexican from Mars – HA. You’re quite right.

    While I agree that Twitter has been absurdly over-hyped (it’s not really that interesting, or practical for real people in real life), I wouldn’t call this a “scam”. For one thing, they’re a corporation, a corporations stretch the truth to make themselves look good. It’s so common these days that it’s almost not offensive anymore. For another thing, Twitter CAN still be very useful to those tiny elitist pockets of consistent tweeters – maybe even more so than we thought? Maybe a smaller audience allows a certain focus?

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Social Media

Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.



twitter privacy

Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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Social Media

Facebook’s Forecast wants ‘qualified’ predictions, but no one’s asking why

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is asking a bunch of so-called experts to chime in on what the future holds, but can we trust them with the information we’re giving them?



Forecast app

These days, trolls don’t necessarily lurk beneath bridges in order to ensnare unsuspecting travelers. Instead, they hide out in the comment sections on social media posts, ready to incite wrath and stir up controversy with their incendiary remarks. Because Facebook knows how quickly reasonable discourse can quickly devolve thanks in part to these online trolls, they’ve made a move to establish intelligent discussions through their new “Forecast” app.

The premise of Forecast is fairly straightforward. Facebook has invited an assortment of so-called experts (whether they work in the medical field or academia, or some other field) to cast their vote on predictions about the future. Not only will they share their vote, though, they’ll also pitch in their own two cents about these predictions, sparking what is expected to be insightful and reasonable conversation about the topics.

However, while the premise is exciting (smart people! not basement dwellers! talking about serious stuff!), there’s more than a small amount of risk associated with Forecast. For starters, what exactly is Facebook planning on doing with all of this information that is being volunteered on their app? And secondly, are they going to take precautions to help prevent the spread of misinformation when these results are eventually published?

The fact is, Facebook is notorious for propagating and spreading misinformation. Now, I’m not blaming Facebook itself for this issue. Rather, the sheer volume of its user base inevitably leads to flame wars and dishonesty. You can’t spell “Fake News” with at least a couple of the same letters used in Facebook. Or something like that. The problem arises when people see the results of these polls, recognize that the information is being presented by these hand-picked experts, and then immediately takes them at face value.

It’s not so much that most people are simple minded or unable to think for themselves; rather, they’re primed to believe that the admittedly educated guesses from these experts are somehow better, smarter, than what would be presented to them by the average layperson. The bias is inherent in the selection process of who is and isn’t allowed to vote. By excluding everyday folks like you and me (I certainly wasn’t given an invite!), undue prestige may be attributed to these projections.

At the moment, many of these projections are silly bits of fluff. One question asks, “Will Tiger King on Netflix get a spinoff season?” Another one wonders, “Will Mulan debut on Disney+ at the same time as or instead of a theatrical release?” But other questions? Well, they’re a little more serious than that. And speculating on serious issues (such as COVID-19, or the presidential election) can lead to the spread of serious — and potentially dangerous — misinformation.

Facebook has implemented very strict guidelines about what types of questions are allowed and which ones are forbidden. That, at least, is a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that expectation can actually lead to the predicted outcomes, directly influencing actions and behaviors. While it’s too early to tell if Forecast will ever gain that much power, it undoubtedly puts us in a position of wondering if and when intervention may be necessary.

But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t exactly trust Facebook’s ability to put this cultivated information to good use. Sometimes a troll doesn’t have to be overtly provocative in order to be effective, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see someone in a position of power exploit the results of these polls to influence the public. It’ll be interesting to see if Forecast is still around in the next few years, but alas, there’s no option for me to submit my vote on that to find out.

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Social Media

Well established Pinterest has a new competitor, Google Keen

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Google is constantly playing catch up, their new target is Pinterest. They have a new photo sharing social media app called Google Keen.



Google Keen

It looks like Pinterest might finally have some competition: Google Keen. Notice the heavy emphasis on the word “might”.

It’s not hard to see why Google might feel a tad encroached upon by Pinterest, a photo-sharing and search-based platform; while Pinterest’s impact is relatively small in terms of taking traffic from the G-people themselves, any competition is unwelcome in Google’s eyes–perhaps justifying their move toward creating their own version of Pinterest.

Google Keen isn’t a direct ripoff–after all, they changed the name–but the general principle is the same: Users can create a “keen” for a specific visual topic, thus allowing them to search for, and add images of that topic. Google was quick to cite “bread” as a possible topic, which, according to Social Media Today, is a direct nod to recent Pinterest trends.

Subtlety never was Google’s strongest suit, and that seems to be a theme they’re reiterating here. Perhaps that’s why the Google Graveyard, a site we’ve addressed in the past, is full of tools that didn’t live up to their original inspiration (one of the latest additions being the half-baked Google Hangouts). Google Keen shows promise, but one can’t help but remember how Google’s Circles feature fared in Facebook’s shadow.

Keen is available for web and Android platforms, which answers one question while raising a few more. For example, while it makes sense that Google would brand Keen for their own smartphone audience, iPhone Google usage is notably high, and the Pinterest crowd loves a clean aesthetic (that’s another point in the Apple camp). As such, it might be in Google’s best Pinterests–I mean, interests–to implement an iPhone presence for the app as well.

It is worth noting that Google has taken deliberate inspiration from Pinterest in a lot of ways. So Keen may be a way for them to tout their adopted features and familiarize users with them so that, in the long run, they are able to begin migrating traffic back to their own platform from Pinterest. In a time in which any competition may open the door to disaster down the road, this is a move that, despite skepticism, makes sense.

After all, the Google Graveyard is operating at capacity, yet the tech behemoth continues to chug away. Who knows where their newest “innovation” may take them?

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