Many of Elon Musk's millions of followers on X (formerly Twitter) are fake accounts, according to a review published by the UK-based news website, Mashable.
Currently, Musk, who owns the social media service, has roughly 153.5 million followers on the platform. However, the new review, which was conducted by programmer Travis Brown, brings the reality of that number into question.
The data collected by the review reportedly thoroughly covered basic account information on Musk’s followers and “respected X's rate limit parameters.”
The results of the review are striking.
It found that many of the accounts following Musk's have characteristics that indicate the users of the accounts aren’t really using X.
Of the accounts following the tech billionaire when the review was conducted, over 65.3 million, or roughly 42%, had no followers of their own. Further, just under 112 million, a little more than 72%, had fewer than 10 followers each.
Additionally, more than 40%, or over 62.5 million accounts, following Musk when the data was collected had zero tweets on their accounts.
Over 100 million accounts, more than two-thirds of Musk’s followers, had fewer than 10 tweets posted to their accounts.
The review also highlights an oddity regarding the age of the account. In relation to how recently Musk purchased the social media platform, an event that occurred on October 27, 2022, a striking proportion of the accounts following him were created either on that same date or thereafter.
Over a quarter, approximately 38.9 million of the accounts following Musk, fall into this category.
Brown noted to Mashable that while the average number of followers on accounts following Musk was 187, due to skewed distributions, this figure wasn’t particularly relevant. Notably, however, the median number of followers on accounts following Musk was 1.
The Mashable article states that the data could indicate that many of Musk’s followers could be fake accounts, inactive users, or simply people who only use X to consume, rather than produce, content.
Indicators that the accounts are fake
There are indicators that could indicate, the Mashable report claims, that the accounts may indeed be fake or inactive rather than simply “consumer” or “lurker” accounts.
A bot account may be suggested by things such as an account having the default avatar or an automatically generated username, the latter of which normally includes a string of auto-generated numbers.
More than a quarter of Musk’s followers have the default profile image and over 40% of the accounts have at least 4 digits included in the X @ handle.
Additionally, many of the accounts that follow Musk have a dearth of other accounts that they follow.
About 28.5%, or 43.8 million of Musk’s followers follow fewer than 10 other users. Further, 8.8% percent of Musk’s followers, about 13.5 million, only follow Musk.