Tech in the News: How to Spot a Fake Twitter Follower and Assess the Value of a Real One

Ian Bogost

Posted February 7, 2018

External Article: KQED

Ian Bogost, professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) at Georgia Institute of Technology, was quoted in the KQED, February 7, article, “How to Spot a Fake Twitter Follower and Assess the Value of a Real One.” The School of Literature, Media, and Communication is part of the Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.


Robots are on Twitter, and people pay to have them as followers. That begs the question: What is the worth of a real, live human Twitter follower? First, the background on fake accounts. A recent New York Times investigation delved into how companies create and sell fabricated Twitter accounts, or bots. These bots are used to do things like automatically retweet posts and inflate people’s follower count. You don’t have to buy bots to get them as followers. Some are programmed to follow accounts, hoping to lure real people to follow them back. That makes the bot look more believable… Ian Bogost is a professor of media studies at Georgia Tech, and he wrote a piece for The Atlantic questioning how much we value Twitter followers in general. Bogost said we are not being critical enough about what it means to have a follower, whether that follower is “real” or “fake.” “People assume when they have a follower on Twitter, that it’s not just a real human being,” Bogost said. “But that it is someone who is looking at them and listening to them and responding to them, and they can sell products or services to.”

For the full article, visit the KQED website.