August 25, 2011, 12:51 PM — It appears the rumors of his demise that have been enthusiastically blogged and tweeted also have been greatly exaggerated, because Newt Gingrich is the real deal, baby! Well, at least on Twitter.
The controversy (such as it was) began earlier this month when Gawker, that coastal elite website with a palpable disdain for heartland values, published allegations from an anonymous former Gingrich staffer that the flailing presidential candidate and Tiffany's power-shopper was running a phony Twitter operation!
According to this former staffer, the vast majority of the 1.3 million Twitter followers Gingrich likes to brag about were bought and paid for! As many as 92%!
Now, it's one thing for a politician to be bought and paid for -- that's how our political system works. But adapting this kind of practice to the social media world is beyond the pale. It's an insult to every Twitter account holder who earned their followers the hard way -- by either being a celebrity or obsessively following thousands of strangers with a better-than-50% expectation of a follow-back.
But it turns out that Gawker was wrong, according to Mashable, which decided to put to the test Gingrich's explanation that he picked up massive amounts of followers by being on Twitter's Suggested User List (SUL), and not because he paid some fly-by-night company to create fake accounts.
If Gingrich was correct, all of the politicians on the SUL would have roughly the same composition of followers. So we asked Topsy, a social media search company, to conduct an exhaustive, weeks-long analysis of the followers of every politician on the SUL.
OK, is it just me, or is that sorta weird?
The result: No matter which way you slice it, nearly all political accounts on the SUL have the same levels of inactivity among their followers as Gingrich.
For example, 76% of Gingrich’s followers have posted no information about themselves in the bio section of their profile. But the same is true for 68% of (Jordan's Queen) Rania’s followers, 74% of both (Newark Mayor Cory) Booker and John McCain’s followers, 78% of California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s followers and 79% of California Gov. Jerry Brown‘s followers.
Newt Gingrich: No more inauthentic on Twitter than any other politician. That's a slogan Newt can ride all the way to the White House. Assuming he's ever invited.