Mark Clarke’s fake followers: mystery deepens


9:26 am - June 28th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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On Tuesday we ran a little story about Mark Clarke – a prominent Tory candidate who was selected to run against Sadiq Khan at the 2010 election.

Mark Clarke had thousands of fake Twitter followers, bringing his total number to just under a staggering 50,000 followers.

Our protagonist might be a relative unknown character but the broader point matters: right-wingers are increasingly using tricks to boost their online campaigning.

A national newspaper has since been in touch since our story and I’ve given them two more names of British right-wingers whom I suspect of a similar boost in Twitter followers. More on that soon.

I am now confident most of Mark Clarke’s Twitter followers are fake. He hasn’t responded to any of my queries.

According to Twitter, Mark Clarke started his account on Saturday, 3rd March 2012.

So, in less than four months he accumulated 50,000 real followers? I doubt it.

This is how TwitterCounter tracks his followers. His number jumped straight to over 50,000 and has steadily declined since, as Twitter slowly purged fake accounts.

This is not the first time Mark Clarke has been in the midst of online controversy. Just before the 2010 election, someone bought domain names that related to his Tory rival and directed them to Clarke’s own website.

Why would people want to inflate their Twitter followers? Because it makes them look prominent and important, especially when ‘Top Twitter lists’ abound in newspapers. Plus, some people get free goodies in return for a plug on their Twitter account.

As politics is increasingly fought over the web and online perceptions become more prominent (take ‘Google bombing’), expect more such dirty tricks.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


As politics is increasingly fought over the web and online perceptions become more prominent (take ‘Google bombing’), expect more such dirty tricks.

Is this a dirty trick particularly? I can see that it’s a bit embarrassing, but there’s nothing illegal being done is there? I think unless you can show monetary gain from this, then it’s a bit of a fuss about nothing.

Fun and all, for sure. But I’m not sure that there’s any wider purpose being done here other than pointing and laughing.

I am now quite confident Mark Clarke most of his Twitter followers are fake

I am quite confident that this sentence doesn’t make sense.

@1

I see Tim J is the duty right-wing spin merchant today.

“Ooh, it’s not really so bad, only a bit of fun”, followed by using the phrases “dirty trick” and “monetary gain”, which then enables the follow-up “Aw look, those rotten lefties are accusing poor Mark Clarke of playing dirty and being a fraud! Is there no depths to which they won’t sink? Is this the best they can do?” and so forth.

Meanwhile, the wider issue – that the right has a habit of exaggerating its support – gets papered over (the TPA’s pretence of “grassroots” is another one, together with quoting the size of its mailing list as “support”).

Meanwhile, the wider issue – that the right has a habit of exaggerating its support – gets papered over

Oh, is that the wider issue here? I was rather wondering.

The phrase “dirty trick” isn’t mine, it’s Sunny’s, I’m just not sure that artificially inflating Twitter followers really counts as a dirty trick. And the ‘fun’ comment was directed at Sunny’s coverage of this story – it’s a fun story to run isn’t it? It’s embarrassing for Mark Clarke (whoever the hell he is), and it’s impossible for anyone to defend it. So yee-hah and run ahead with it. I just don’t quite see it up there with Woodward and Bernstein.

5. Shatterface

Why would people want to inflate their Twitter followers? Because it makes them look prominent and important, especially when ‘Top Twitter lists’ abound in newspapers. Plus, some people get free goodies in return for a plug on their Twitter account.

I was going to just yawn this off as yet another Twitter non-story – do you ever research anything with more than one hand these day? – but that looks like an accusation – or at least an insinuation – of fraud to me. Have you got anything to back this up?

As to Twitter followers, I have several different accounts I use for different purposes, some socially, some business related, and some of which are just spoofs created as and when I feel like it, often abandoned after a short period.

I’m following other people under various accounts of mine (which artificially inflates their followers), and some of those people are following different accounts of mine (which inflates my total), some knowingly and some not. Some of those people also have various accounts, of their own, etc.

Twitter identity is fluid and nobody really gives a shit unless you are Tweeting in the middle of a civil war. Its not a source of reliable knowledge any more than Facebook.

shatterface – in the event that I develop a massive brain freeze and everyone else on the earth dies other than you and I, I may possibly ask for your advice on editorial matters. Until then, don’t bother.

Maybe Mark Clarke has a personality disorder/problem and he alleviates it by pretending he has many followers to make him appear important so that he feels better.

A bit like a teenager trying to seek attention. Recently a person pretended that he could not remember much, only that he had lived in the forest for many years. Later someone saw his story and photograph in an European newspaper and he was exposed as a fantasist. A bit like the rest of the Tory Party really.

@4

Ah, I see, Sunny did it and ran away. Or maybe not.

Then we get “it’s not Watergate”, so the same drivel as we got from the Right in 2009 when phone hacking broke.

And who Mark Clarke is is important. He’s a former Tory PPC, he’s part of the “Conservative Movement” in the UK, which involves all the lobby groups and think tanks, and of course the YBF, who train many of the new breed of activists.

Never mind, I’m sure you have a latte somewhere to sneer into.

Ah, I see, Sunny did it and ran away. Or maybe not.

Jeeze, you’re a disgrace to the fine old name of Tim (if such a thing is possible). Here’s what Sunny said:

As politics is increasingly fought over the web and online perceptions become more prominent (take ‘Google bombing’), expect more such dirty tricks.

See? I’m not sure that a no-name ex Tory PPC’s inflated Twitter followings is anything more than a bit of a fuss about nothing – it certainly doesn’t qualify as ‘dirty tricks’.

10. Sandra Bullock In Speed 2 Cruise Control...Not

If you dont watch who is following you, you can end up with loads of followers, most of whom are just spam, dating sites or porn bots….hmmmm, well they are for me, maybe thats to do with my singledom spent masturbating to porn whilst feeling dreadfully sorry about my own penis size….or maybe not, as I am married, but still, its a point.

11. White Trash

This sort of gaming is part and parcel of the astroturfing that goes on around the online politics scene from the bragging about statporn and manipulation around blog rankings to the continual censorious deletion of comments asking difficult questions or deviating from the party line and no doubt also numerous flunkeys paid to seed comments on news websites, from both state and private agencies.

Here’s just one example of the lengths dodgy politicos and businesses will go to to show how their ideology is the only worthwhile product around:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digg_Patriots

Like our democracies, our banks and in fact our whole goddam economic system it’s riddled with dishonest actors who are busy undermining the very system that they themselves rely on, like idiots sawing away at the branch on which they sit.

12. Chaise Guevara

It’s always funny when Sunny can’t answer a question and throws his toys out of the pram. Nothing quite like a political commenter who responds to honest criticism with something along the lines of “I’m better than you, fuck off”.

Want to know exactly how many fake followers Clark has? FakeFollowerReport.com

Want to know exactly how many fake followers Clarke has? FakeFollowerReport.com

15. Hannibal

“A national newspaper has since been in touch since our story…”

Do you mean Metro? Heh!

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/newsfocus/904225-buying-thousands-of-twitter-followers-does-little-for-your-social-media-life


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jason Brickley

    Mark Clarke’s fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens http://t.co/yZEYwEKn

  2. Jane Basham

    Prominent Tory PPC Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: the mystery deepens http://t.co/1Pr0ToDu

  3. dji45

    I'm now fairly sure @mrmarkclarke has mostly fake Twitter followers, and there's more to come http://t.co/1Pr0ToDu

  4. Bileys Mullet

    I'm now fairly sure @mrmarkclarke has mostly fake Twitter followers, and there's more to come http://t.co/1Pr0ToDu

  5. Neil Bradley

    I'm now fairly sure @mrmarkclarke has mostly fake Twitter followers, and there's more to come http://t.co/1Pr0ToDu

  6. Mark McCormack

    Prominent Tory PPC Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: the mystery deepens http://t.co/1Pr0ToDu

  7. Hurstingstone

    Prominent Tory PPC Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: the mystery deepens http://t.co/1Pr0ToDu

  8. Supreet Bhatti

    lol what an idiot"@sunny_hundal: Prominent Tory PPC Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: the mystery deepens http://t.co/RVzsZCAb"

  9. Karen

    Mark Clarke’s fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens http://t.co/sVuursF0 <<< @MrMarkClarke still hasn't explained this mess…

  10. Angie Pedley

    RT @libcon: Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens http://t.co/rnBNqr3u

  11. God and Politics UK

    Buying fake Twitter followers is a fantastic way to ruin your reputation – why do people do it? http://t.co/NKVmc8lA via @libcon

  12. Mike Hall

    Mark Clarke’s fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/TxIGfGHq via @libcon

  13. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Mark Clarke’s fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens http://t.co/z8CZryeB

  14. James Grant (JRF)

    MP Mark Clarke’s fake Twitter followers http://t.co/lpqnlm7B via @libcon

  15. Foxy52

    Prominent Tory PPC Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: the mystery deepens http://t.co/1Pr0ToDu

  16. AJ

    Tory Mark Clarke’s fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/8TIHhZrA

  17. Twitter death watch might have amused Nora Ephron

    […] Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens | Liberal … […]

  18. Shoot My Dog

    Mark Clarke&#39;s fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens | Liberal … http://t.co/uF3mtQvz

  19. BevR

    Mark Clarke’s fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/wMk7U0gB via @libcon

  20. Chris Castle

    Prominent Tory PPC Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: the mystery deepens http://t.co/1Pr0ToDu

  21. Stoudemire Fined for Using Slur on Twitter

    […] Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens | Liberal … […]

  22. Noxi

    RT @libcon: Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens http://t.co/khMwF9cP

  23. Noxi

    RT @libcon: Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens http://t.co/2SlWHsNm

  24. Alex Braithwaite

    Mark Clarke’s fake followers: mystery deepens | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/5DfIK2p5 via @libcon#PMSL

  25. sheun yen

    Mark Clarke's fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens | Liberal … http://t.co/ce15bRHb

  26. David Davies

    Mark Clarke’s fake followers: mystery deepens ~ http://t.co/b9i7cLxf

  27. sunny hundal

    @ibomanflavell see this http://t.co/Md5iYo18 and this http://t.co/sE5aGoeb

  28. Is Grant Shapps using a robot to get more Twitter followers? | Political Scrapbook

    […] Mark Clarke exposed by Liberal Conspiracy for accumulating as many as 50,000 fake Twitter followers, it appears that minister Grant Shapps […]

  29. Bryn Phillips

    RT – Toxic Tatler Tory, Mark Clarke – & his fake 'followers' crawls into the guildhall http://t.co/rcwvuwNA @cityoflondon @guardiannews

  30. Naomi Colvin

    @SSchonfield this guy won: http://t.co/4ZG2xf14





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