Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Faker Faker

In the wonderful world of social media in NZ over the last few days, a good old fashioned witch hunt has been-a-brewing.

I'm not going to spend anytime thrashing out the details or linking to the 'stories' rather, I am going to talk about how we got to this position.

It all started last week when 'Status People' faker score percentages started popping up in the twitter feed. I'm not going to lie, I was curious too, so I looked into my account:

According to Status People I have 2% Fake (with 1,024 followers, that is approx 24 followers) 10% inactive (102 followers) and 88% good (819 followers). I kind of looked at the numbers, thought about the number of my 'followers' who I remove/block when they're blatantly spam, and thought, yeah, probably about right. At this point I forgot about it.

After not opening up my tweetdeck for most of the day yesterday, when I did in the afternoon, it was filled with Status People fake number tweets. Fair enough, I was curious too, but I did find it amusing, boasting about the few 'fake' followers they have (or not as the case may be).

So the witch hunt (this is what I have referred to it as) has spawned from someone trawling 'Social Media' people on Twitter and reporting their 'fake' percentages. Can we all just stop for a second and think about why someone might do that? They were looking for a scandal, something to take someone else down. I mean, come on! That's kind of sad.

Moving on... I started to question exactly how accurate this 'fake finder' was. I think it was @tomosborne who mentioned (to someone else) that Twitblock to find and purge spam followers. So that is what I did:

This reported that 18 of my followers were 44% or more likely to be spam. 2 of the handles listed are certainly not spam, 1 is a friend and 1 is for NZ's new Shopping Channel? So, 16 of 1,024 is 1.6%, which matches what the Status People numbers said. Sweet I thought, let's run the numbers again. Now, stupidly I didn't screen shot the time, but, post spam cull, my numbers were exactly the same:

Which says to me, this is a bit of a crock. I culled my 2%, yet it's still there.

If you actually look into the working behind these Faker Scores you would read:

"We take a sample of your follower data. Up to 500 records depending on how 'popular' you are and assess them against a number of simple spam criteria...

For those of you with 10,000 followers or less we believe our tool will provide a very accurate insight into how many inactive and fake followers you have.
If you're very 'popular' the tool will still provide good insight but may better reflect your current follower activity rather than your whole follower base."

The way I read this is, in actual fact, if you have over 500 followers, it is probably not going to be a very accurate reflection of your followers. If you have over 10k even less so. Perhaps we should be questioning the credibility of the tool rather than the people it's used against?

I understand that we only have the tools available to us, but this is certainly not a source I will be quoting. Similar to Klout, I feel as though this is just another tool that will be thrown around as and when it benefits the user.

I ask 2 things of anyone who decides to read this far:

1. Can we PLEASE question the information that is presented to us - in all aspects of our lives and; 
2. If you allow any of these 'apps' to access your twitter account, revoke the access once you're done. You will find it located under your settings. I highly recommend revoking anything you don't need.

Interestingly I have tried to run the Faker Scores just now, and now no data returns, even though I gave access again. Strange.