@jimwatsonottawa Tops 40,000 ‘Fake’ Followers: Web Audit




A report by the Internet website TwitterAudit estimates that 41 per cent of followers of Mayor Jim Watson’s website are fakes.

That means that as of two years ago just more than 40,000 of claimed followers on @jimwatsonottawa are what are called egg-bots that are most likely Twitter bots. In other words, their are no people behind the questionable followers.

In contrast, only three per cent of @KenGray were fakes. On other councillor Twitter sites the total of fakes tested by The Bulldog were:

@dianedeans, four per cent;

@rickchiarelli, four per cent;

@mathieufleury, 11 per cent;

@jodymitic, two per cent;

@cmckenney, two per cent;

@bobmonette1, three per cent;

@barrhavenjan, 14 per cent;

@marianne4kanata, four per cent;

@eli_elchantiry, four per cent;

@ShadQadri, five per cent;

@go_taylor, eight per cent;

@keithegli, three per cent;

@timtierney, three per cent;

@tobi_nussbaum, three per cent;

@jleiper, eight per cent;

@riverwardriley, six per cent;

@chernushenko, three per cent;

@jeancloutierott, three per cent;

@stephenblais, 12 per cent;

@GeorgeDarouze, five per cent;

@scottmoffatt21, 13 per cent;

@allanhubley_23, three per cent;

@QaqishPolitico, four per cent.

Reached last night in Watson’s office, the mayor’s spokesperson Livia Belcea said the people following the mayor “are not vetted individually. Our engagement is exceptional.”

Photo above: @jimwatsonottawa’s TwitterAudit results.

TwitterAudit does not assign blame for how the ‘fake’ followers got there. Instead it says on its website:

“Each audit takes a random sample of 5,000 Twitter followers for a user and calculates a score for each follower. This score is based on number of tweets, date of the last tweet, and ratio of followers to friends. We use these scores to determine whether any given user is real or fake. Of course, this scoring method is not perfect but it is a good way to tell if someone with lots of followers is likely to have increased their follower count by inorganic, fraudulent, or dishonest means.”

TwitterAudit is unable to show how the ‘fake’ followers came to be.

The respected Internet website CNET says that TwitterAudit is the most accurate auditing site it has found for this type of analyzing. It says:

TwitterAudit does take into account that most Twitter accounts have some fake followers, so any score above 60 per cent is classified as “real,” while scores between 40 and 60 percent are classified as “not sure.”

Watson’s account falls into the “not sure” category.

Another analytic tool, Fake Follower Check, is not as accurate as TwitterAudit, CNET says, but it shows that only 25 per cent of @jimwatsonottawa’s followers are “good”. Sixty per cent are “inactive” and 15 per cent are “fake.”

Many major personalities are believed to buy followers to boost their prestige. The stars themselves might not purchase followers but their management team may.

Buying fake followers is not uncommon in politics. CNET reported that a study by Baracuda Labs showed that about 15 per cent of presidential candidate Mitt Romney followers may have come from fake accounts created by pay-for-followers services. In one instance, Romney gained 116,000 followers in a day.

There are also cases where people not associated with an account added fake followers to an account to make them look as though the account-holder had purchased them. A Twitter user Ryan Tracey reported to the iag site that 24,000 fake websites were improperly assigned to his account.

TwitterAudit does not show how the fake followers appeared in @jimwatsonottawa. There is no evidence the fake accounts were purchased by Watson or any of his team.

However at just short of 100,000 followers, @jimwatsonottawa numbers far exceed those of any other municipal politician in a city of 900,000 men, women and children. Most councillors’ Twitter followers average around 4,000 to 5,000.

On the website Sozialy, 10,000 Twitter followers can be purchased for $39.89. Retweets and favourites can also be purchased.


@jimwatsonottawa’s Fake Follower Check results.


Back to The Bulldog’s home page, click here.

To comment on this post, use the reply box at the bottom of this page.



Bulldog Fetch brings you the best in politics, movies, entertainment, TV, travel, viral, style and news features. You can’t stay current without Bulldog Fetch. To read it, click here.



To get the finest in Canadian news and opinion, click here for Bulldog Canadian. Your one stop for Canadian politics.



For Ottawa’s complete summary of local news as it happens, Full Local is the place to go. If you need up-to-the-minute Ottawa news from Ottawa’s major sources now, click here.


weather icon

For The Bulldog’s detailed Ottawa 10-Day Forecast and Weather Alerts, click here.

Report a typo to kengray20@gmail.com

7 thoughts on “@jimwatsonottawa Tops 40,000 ‘Fake’ Followers: Web Audit

  1. I thought you would find that site interesting.

    Is it possible to get a line by line breakdown of the mayors office’s ‘Constituent Communications and Web Services’ expenses? Or are just monthly totals the norm?

    1. Joey:

      Thank you for the tip.

      I think line-by-line is available … just check with the city clerk/city solicitor office.



  2. Ken, you really have the Twitter bit between your teeth. While I can’t believe I’m coming to the defense of @jimwatsonottawa, I feel like I have to.

    Naheed Nenshi: a third fake. (32%, one year ago)
    Gregor Robertson: 3 in 10 (28%, four years ago)
    John Tory: 3 in 10 (28%, one year ago)
    Tom Mulcair: 4 in 10 (43%, one year ago)
    Hilary Clinton: 1 in 4 (27%, one year ago)
    Barack Obama: half (47%, two months ago).

    It would appear that at the time of audit, Watson’s numbers were higher than his counterpart mayors. But there are many accounts with similar or worse numbers, and even Nenshi isn’t that far off.

    As to the Fake Follower Check information, it’s quite well known that a huge number of Twitter accounts are inactive. Some estimates have it up to 60%; The Atlantic quoted it as 35% in 2014.

    If you have some evidence that Watson or someone around him bought followers, I bet you’d get a great scoop out of it. In fact, it would likely be the biggest scandal of his term.

    Your first post conflated hashtags and accounts; your second fundamentally misunderstood the concept of likes. I don’t know why you’re writing so obsessively about a topic on which you appear to lack basic understanding.

    1. Bob:

      Just because Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton have a lot of fakes doesn’t make it right.

      I’ve been careful to point out that it has not been proven who put the fakes there.

      They can be put on by opponents as well as proponents.

      I think comparing Obama and Watson might be unfair. How about Watson and Deans?

      I compared councillors and the mayor. You compare the president of the U.S. and the mayor of Ottawa. Hmmm. I think they met at an airport once.



      ps Bob I’m not quite as stupid as you seem to think when it comes to technology. The site on which you write was created from scratch by yours truly. Design, technology, maintenance everything. And have 54,000 page views to boot a week. Not bad for someone who doesn’t know what he is doing.

      That said, i’m not perfect.

      If 41 per cent of the mayor’s followers are fakes, in my world that’s a story. But then what would I know … I’ve only been in journalism for almost four decades.



      1. I would in no way suggest that the ubiquity of fake followers makes it right.

        Winnowing fake followers from real is not impossible. But it will (a) cost money (to purchase services like Twitter Audit’s pro tier of software); and (b) require some investment of time and resources on the part of the mayor’s office. Is that what we want a mayor’s office to be spending time and money on?

        The truth of fake followers is that they congregate around popular accounts. And as important as city councillors are, they rarely have the visibility or popularity of a mayor. Therefore, the comparison of Watson to a city councillor’s account is only marginally useful. I made six comparisons; if you feel the Obama one is not useful, I encourage you to ignore it and look at the three big-city mayors on the list.

        Is a 41% fake number newsworthy? Maybe. But without some evidence that this 41% number is (a) still valid and (b) under some control of the Mayor or his office… maybe not so much.

        Ken, I don’t think you’re “stupid”, to use your word. I think you’re lacking in a fundamental understanding of Twitter. Elsewhere, I suggested you contact someone who spends their life doing digital public affairs to gain some insight. I maintain that would be a far better use of space on the Bulldog than analyses that are fundamentally flawed.

        Then again, what would I know… I’ve only been in communications for almost three decades.

        1. Bob:

          In your words: I think you’re lacking in a fundamental understanding of journalism.

          Communications and journalism are two very different things.

          Also your website needs some sprucing up. If you’d like some help in that regard, I’d be happy to help.



          1. Oh, dear. It appears that the Bulldog shares one characteristic with his favorite target, our Dear Leader: when a pet project is criticised, the teeth get bared.

            If this is how you choose to respond to constructive criticism, I dearly hope you never get really trolled.

            Thanks for the generous offer, Ken. I’ll take it in the spirit in which it was made.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *