And what about Times of India’s ‘fake’ followers on Twitter?

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27 Oct 2012

38 what about Times of India’s ‘fake’ followers on Twitter?&id=nc

The Times of India has carried a report in its Ahmedabad edition on October 27, 2012, on the number and quality of followers that Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi has on Twitter. The story is titled “Bitter Twitter truth for Narendra Modi

The hostility of the Times of India towards Modi is not new. The SIT, constituted by the Supreme Court to look into the Gujarat 2002 violence, has indicted Manoj Mitta working for this newspaper for being in active connivance with the cottage industry out to besmirch Modi through crooked ways. Manoj Mitta, while working for the Times of India as a journalist, was also helping Sanjiv Bhatt draft his many false affidavits that he submitted in the Supreme Court. Just recently, when the Modi Government announced a ban on tobacco products in Gujarat, the Times of India ran multiple page articles with detailed pictorial instructions as to how to circumvent the ban. Between the health hazards of tobacco products and supporting Modi for just one cause, they chose tobacco!

Yet, the story that the Times of India has published on Modi’s Twitter followers is particularly vicious. The story is ostensibly about the quality of Twitter followers that Modi has and yet the story is not just that. Innuendos are thrown into the story that fake followers are bought by celebrities and politicians through some marketing agencies and that Modi might have done the same. No other celebrity and his or her followers have been analysed in the story to even give a semblance of perspective and balance. It is all about Modi so that the innuendos stick on to him alone. A nondescript website ( Status People ) is used as the only source to base the story on. Whether the website has any credibility, is it peer reviewed as a genuine website or some crack job – nothing is mentioned. As long as anything that comes handy to discredit Modi, it’s fine with the Times of India!

Below is an analysis of 10 accounts using the same website (thus fairness) for some celebrity and non-celebrity handles:

From the above chart, a few things are clearly discernible :

»  Every account that is a celebrity has the same ratio of fakes, inactive and active accounts. Everyone. Be they politicians ( like Shashi Tharoor) or movie stars (like Shah Rukh Khan). The Twitter handle of the office of PM of India (S.No. 04) has the least percentage of “Good” followers as per this website. Even Barack Obama, President of USA, has about 70% non-good followers.

»  Non celebrity accounts ( like mine and I have included one more – @MrsGandhi – just to confirm ) are the ones with negligible fake followers, but even they have some some!

»  Times of India’s own Twitter account (S.No. 08) has as much fake followers as other celebrities. In fact in this aspect, Hindustan Times (S.No. 09) , the closest competitor of TOI, fares better with lesser fake followers. Should we junk TOI and go for HT then?

There are two other aspects to this story in addition to the vicious nature of the TOI attack.

First, the CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, has debunked the idea of fake followers on Twitter. In an interview  published on October 12 2012, Costolo said that the biggest misconception people have about Twitter is that participating on Twitter means one must tweet. On the contrary, 40 per cent of the people on Twitter don’t tweet at all. They are there just to follow others, get access to their favorite celebrities, or keep on top of the news. But they do not tweet. The classifying of fake followers by websites like Status People, merely on the presumption that they follow many people but don’t tweet, is therefore clearly suspect. What is even more incredulous is that a newspaper like the Times of India should base a report on such suspect website.

Second, when mainstream media resorts to such disingenuous practices, it becomes a participant in the political process and not a just a neutral reporter and observer of facts. It is then that it invites charges like the one facing media across platforms — is there really any difference between some media practices and the oldest profession in the world?

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38 what about Times of India’s ‘fake’ followers on Twitter?&id=nc

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  • Harsh

    TOI prides itself on being the largest circulated English newspaper in the world; it is, but is also the poorest in quality among those newspapers it counts itself against (NYT, WSJ, WaPo). Anything and everything in the paper including the masthead is available for sale. Their website is trashy and pathetic. Their owners are no angels either. Wonder why we still read it.

    • Raghu

      TOI may be poor on quality but definitely rich in quantity. U recover as kabadi value more than what u pay as subscription. That must explain the huge circulation of TOI. People must be buying in bulk and hit straight to the nearest kabadiwala. A real profitable venture!!!


    excellent analysis. Will times of India ever respond to this?

  • Chandan Chauhan

    Though Times of India has always been known as a Congress mouthpice, This is disgraceful. This is against the ethics of journalism but goes to prove that how scared TOI is of Narendra Modi. TOI should actually be renmaned as TOC, The Times of Corrupt.

    • Jagadish M

      It can also be renamed as ‘Times of Congress’


    AND, like on twitter, YOU ROCK, MAN……

    However, be sure, that you are not going to recieve a response from TOI(let) paper.they are just HIT-AND-RUN kind of guys. they publish just idiotic articles, and even more idiotic is their comments section.

    what a TRASH their paper is, and what a TRASH, the TIO itself is.

    once, it used to be a good paper. and, if i correctly remember, the only among mainstream papers to give space to SWAPAN DAS GUPTA’S views.

    but no more.

  • Brajesh

    TOI is as good as toilet napkin. They are just around to fool people and earn money. News is just a secondary item for them. They are corrupting the minds of the people and should be stopped from doing this. I am doing this by convincing people, how everything in this paper is either some paid news or advertorials. Except the column of Swaminathan Ankaleshwar Aiyar (Swaminomics), every news and column is just waste.

    Same with Hindustan Times, this paper looks like a large colage of news. All pics no text seems to be their editorial policy.

  • DADA

    As always the Political Assasin..MR Mishra strikes again…to the point and at his analytical best. Well written and TOI fully exposed for what it really is

  • Lata Varma

    Damn good Akhilesh ! Nicely analysed. You have made your point very well. Nice to see your blog getting published.

  • Dilip

    We all know the standard of journalism is pretty low, but what this proves is how utterly biased the media really is and how it is exploiting any possible angle to show Mr Modi in poor light. This is actually very good, because, all the other similar articles can be discounted by public. Keep this poor journalism going, so that public really ignore you… Well done…

  • mahadevan

    Excellent Akhileshji this is what is called pure analytical journalism. That what is practised by TOI is nothing but whoring- by the way they have been around for long- so they know the intricacies of the oldest profession.

  • bhagawat

    Many twitter accounts are not tweeting regularly like wise many facebook accounts dont works regularly.But Narendramodi account is working with supporters of above one million followers.they may not be his supporter but are followers.Twitter is a platform of expression of ones happiness sorrow needs demands and expression of thoughts.Many times many people needs blood for their patienst on twitter and many times they get help.Many times in remote places tweeples face inconvenience but helped by followers in that place.So its a platform which helps nothings asks.Narendra Modi is a CM of Gujarat and also eligible for post of PM.its only one million on twitter but he is supported by 100 crores hindus opposed by 15 crore muslims.

  • Animesh Pandeya

    Found an interesting link for the methodology used by Status People at this link ..

    Some notable quotes from the article ..
    “The Status People system takes the most recent 500 followers [originally this article mistakenly stated 10,000 followers] and scans them for their follower to following ratio, and how actively followers post new content. When the number that these accounts are following far exceeds the number of their followers and the activity is low, Status People flags this as a fake account.”

    “Status People says that apart from Twitter users buying fake followers another possibility is that fake followers can be added maliciously as part of a prank or to discredit the target, a trend it is finding more common with celebrities and political figures.

    Now .. isn’t the last part interesting .. :-)


    For the past one week,there is not a single day when Gadkari issue was not debated,and surprisingly even on Saturday when Arnab is on leave ,he appeared not to forget it .Compare this with VBS OR Vadra issue which to an ordinary man is an open and shut case ,no more than once or twice it was debated.Does this not prove that TOI and its channel ‘Times Now’happen to be controlled by none other than Congress party.

  • Deipakk

    TOI is the worst of the newspaper and has no sense of news it is only in the business of making money thru ads

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  • Rufus Gonsalves

    Bang on target. TOI is no longer a print media but a paid yellow pages. Look at how they are promoting Windows 8 on today’s edition. One wonders how much money these brothers received to publish ” Paid reviews” as news.

    • http://7DR7 Pappu

      ToI can put out paid news, propaganda, all they want. I am not shocked by that.

      I am shocked by the website. It is disgusting carries porn links and suggestive images! This is from today’s stuff from ToI website : ” Hot on the Web. Bollywood’s hottest B-grade scandals. Kajol flashes her bra strap! Sherlyn’s ‘Kamasutra’ look. Military wives pose nude for husbands”. Can you imagine. All these porn links are shown on the side bars when you are reading any serious news article ! No respectable news website does such a thing. Mr Katju, are you asleep ! Somebody please file a PIL or FIR or petition PCI to stop this porn parade. It may even violate Cong’s own favourite Information Technology Act for “lascivious” content.

  • Prashanth K.P.

    What else to expect from TOI, a veteran paid media enterprise!

  • Jaimin Soni

    Good Analysis bro, but You missed out one important thing… The account of Status People itself has 50% fake followers…. :)

    LOL… :)

  • Shreeharsha Perla

    Check the explanation of fake in the website of App. it says account with few followers and tweets are fake. I know many friends who just follow and read tweets, never tweet. but they exist in real

  • Cm

    The answer to your question in your conclusion of this article is, yes, and it is an important one: the whore does not deceive anybody while she may be hiding from public to which she does not have an express duty where the reporters of media, TOI for sure, deceive its readers who trust TOI to bring them news and facts, and any views to call them views or editorials.

    Most of today’s reporters are therefore whores sitting on high seats of altars of civil society, they are much worse.

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  • Dhananjay Kumar

    Trueive, i have my twitter account from 2 years.i follow only political celebrity, journalist & some patriotic tweeples.initially i didnt use to tweet. ive started tweet from recent 4 months

    • Akhilesh Mishra

      You are absolutely right. People come on Twitter not necessarily to tweet only but to also keep on top of things – by following accounts that suit their personal interests. Such accounts could be of politicians or journalists or film stars or twitter handles of media houses.

      So obviously celebrities will have a large number of these silent followers – people who are absorbing what is happening around them without necessarily having the inclination or the expertise to comment on it. That does not mean they are fake – just that they are silent.

      Another reason is that Twitter is mostly in English. Not everyone is fluent and articulate in English in India. That does not mean they are any lesser. Just that they are good at what they do – housewives, computer engineers, scientists, doctors etc – just that they are not articulate ( or do not want to be) and compose a tweet. I checked the Twitter handles of Barrack Obama, David Cameron and Julia Gillard. All had “fake followers” in same ratio as Obama above – around mid twenties. All are from English speaking countries. So the number of “silent” followers normalized for them at a lower level than Indian celebrities.

      The phenomenon is same all across – a level of “silent” followers across all regions. In India this level is slightly higher because of additional factor of articulation requirement in English.

  • anup nair

    Interesting to note that my comment from yesterday has been deleted.

    • moderator

      Yes. Because of foul language.

      • anup nair

        Foul language?!!!! You got to be kidding me! Seriously!!!

  • agarwal g k

    It can be easily concluded that TOI acually is TOC i.e Times of Congress.This newspaer has very conveniently by misusing their position has diverted public attention from Vadra ,VBS,Navin Jindal,Shrikant Jaiswal and Salman Khursid.It is pity for Indian Demcracy that such ministers instead of being taken to task are being promoted.

  • Abhiahek

    This article is absolutely correct. I barely tweet, but access my account daily for news. I don’t think I classify as a fake follower. And the reason is very simple I don’t have followers nor do I wish to gather followers. Twitter has multiple uses, tweeting isn’t the only thing.

  • Jagadish M

    ‘Times of India’ has never been to common man. Its like an ad agency for congress.

  • Abdulraheman Patrawala

    Your Excellency,

    Gujarati young entrepreneurs started a fashion shop in Vastrapura, Ahmedabad and gave the wild name “ Hitler ” with Swastik symbol known for peace, progress and prosperity in India. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation whose fundamental statutory duty is to provide pure drinking water, sanitation and drainage as basic civil amenities to tax payer citizens has taken law unto its hand and pulled down the sign board without due procedure of law. Mr. Guruprasad Mohapatra IAS Commissioner is responsible for this sedition act flouting the sovereignty of the nation. Damages should be recovered from his salary and he should be dismissed from service before Chief Minister of Gujarat in his madness for us/uk visa faces the music before the election commission in breach of his oath of office.

    Kindly grant the sanction for the prosecution under section 197 of Cr.P.C.

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  • Raghu

    thanks Mishra for exposing TOI-let paper of India. Times is anti hindu Congress supporter. Also has some anti national reporters.

  • R Prasad

    TOIlet news paper should be put to rest. It is printing all junk and paid news and articles. It is polluting environment and the minds of its readers too. Time to boycott TOIlet news paper. Why buy a TOIlet news paper when NITI CENTRAL offers great news free online?

  • R Prasad

    Just today I read that TOIlet paper’s readership is down by 92,000. Hope it is out of business soon.

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