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How did Mark Clarke get 50k followers?


2:11 pm - June 26th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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Say hello to Mark Clarke.

Mr Clarke was a Conservative party candidate at the last General Election, standing against Sadiq Khan in Tooting.

He wasn’t universally liked:

‘We have very grave concerns,’ one Tory councillor told The Mail on Sunday. ‘There are people who are worried [Mark Clarke] could damage the party if he is elected. He would be a handful.’

But Clarke has friends too – notably Harry Cole of the Guido Fawkes blog, who ran several pieces trying to smear Sadiq Khan in the run-up to the election, to no avail.

After an unsuccessful election, Clarke joined Harry Cole at the controversial anti-union front Trade Union Reform Campaign. Other members of that motley crew include disgraced MP Aidan Burley.

That’s some brief, useful background.

Last week a source tipped us off to Mark Clarke’s twitter account. He has nearly 50,000 followers, even though he just follows 137 people.

So how does a relatively unknown entity such as Mark Clarke accumulate 50,000 followers on Twitter?

I started scrolling through his followers list. After a few pages you start to notice that Mark Clarke seems to have an unusually high number of fake accounts, foreign or dead Twitter followers.

Here is a small sample; by no means a complete list. You are welcome to scroll through his list of followers yourself. Something smells fishy.

So I asked him how he had so many fake followers.

I didn’t get a reply a full 24 hours later.

I’m not saying Mark Clarke bought his Twitter followers, though this can be done. Last year, the website Gawker revealed that most of Newt Gingrich’s Twitter followers were fake and had been bought.

A few months ago, Political Scrapbook showed that Tory campaign group RightOnline had a large number of suspicious-looking Facebook Likes from India.

I’d be interested to hear from Mr Clarke how he ended up with thousands of fake Twitter followers. Perhaps he could reply to my message; I’d be happy to update the post with his response.

Update: A Tweeter points out that Mark Clarke has form with online shenanigans. And a follow up here too.

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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


Who cares about how many twitter followers a pretty unimportant ex-candidate has….is this really the best you can come up with Sunny?

I notice also that your article about the London cable car being under Dubai law has mysteriously disappeared……

2. Andrew Dicker

Who cares??

3. Chaise Guevara

@ 1 and 2

I agree this story is pretty insignificant as a standalone piece, but astroturfing (if that’s what’s going on here) is a developing political tactic and we’re probably better off keeping abreast of it.

Especially as the media to be very naive (or pretend to be) about this sort of thing. I remember rolling my eyes a few years ago at regular stories along the lines of “Facebook Group Supporting Unpleasant Cause Has 100,000 Members!” Ignoring the fact that many members could be fake, or could have joined to *criticise* the group, not support it.

Who cares? Well you clearly do Andrew Dicker. You don’t think this suggests Mr Clarke is a dishonest person?

Who cares? I do it’s interesting as to why a failed ex Tory parliamentary candidate feels the need to have so many fake accounts?
It ties in with the general deceit, lies, sleaze and corruption that seems to be running through this government like a stick of rock, from the very top down.

Seems to be a party full of narcissists in varying degrees.

No, I think Sunny’s right here. (I know, shock horror).

I myself am really rather interested in much the same thing although for a different reason.

E-buzzing seems to be the method by which blog rankings are decided currently.

E-buzzing puts a lot of weight (how much we don’t know as they don’t release the calculation) on the number of Twitter followers.

Eoin Clarke has a lot of Twitter followers.

Eoin Clarke’s blog is, at least last time I looked, ranked as the UK’s number 1 political blog.

I too would be very interested in finding out more about how those not particularly known as public figures create these large Twitter followings. I think the results could be very interesting.

Maybe he was offering Tax evasion/avoidance advice for free !

Who cares about how many twitter followers a pretty unimportant ex-candidate has….is this really the best you can come up with Sunny?

Please feel free to start your own blog and write / publish what you want!

I, for one, am having a lot of fun 😉

1 well why are you replying then troll?

And speaking of Gingrich. Have you seen that his campaign has racked up $4 million in debt? ( most of it spent at the end when it was clear Romney was the winner.) Lots of suppliers , small businesses, and campaign workers are going to lose out. Don’t ya just love fiscal conservatism?

Never mind. Our moral majority warrior’s wife (thats his 3rd one if your keeping count) tweeted from Tuscany to say how nice the weather is on their holiday.

What a piece of shit.

10. Planeshift

@6 – there’s a similar process by which a number of small businesses get ranked by local papers and awarded prizes as a result. My wife’s business won such a prize recently (a not insignificant £100 cash prize plus free publicity) based on online votes at a website that didn’t appear to block IP addresses from voting more than once. Her business and the next door business had a rivalry on facebook that ensured both of them came significantly ahead of any other business.

Sometimes I really do despair at how popularity gets measured by the amount of times your supporters can press F5, or who simply created the most fake accounts, or who was best at spamming their supporters into signing an online petition.

One of his followers (@SamSamshinde) has quite an interesting profile picture!

great stuff Sunny!

Working in social media I’m fascinated by this. Even if this guy is a nobody it goes to show how desperate some people are to buy friends and give their chatter some kind of validity. Astroturfing is a serious issue as political discourse moves into the hands of the people via social media. At some point in the future it could be made as illegal as voter fraud, this is just the beginning.

He also seems to have stolen Hopi Sen’s face

I have no Twitter at all.
That doesn’t mean nobody is interested in me.
Wake up, you Twitter-obsessed people!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. TotnesB

    Odd, Tory PPC @mrmarkclarke still hasn't replied to explain how he got thousands of fake Twitter followers http://t.co/4EYnu3j2

  2. Sean Dodson

    RT @libcon: How did a Tory PPC get 50k Twitter followers? http://t.co/LyGWuHPQ

  3. Scotty Sheepy

    How did a controversial but relatively unknown Tory party candidate get 50,000 followers on Twitter? http://t.co/4EYnu3j2

  4. AJ

    How did a Tory PPC get 50k Twitter followers? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/KM2JEoeV

  5. freiahill

    Looks like oleaginous Tory @MrMarkClarke may have been *buying* twitter followers http://t.co/vP3x67Xn (from @sunny_hundal)

  6. lfabert

    How did a Tory PPC get 50k Twitter followers? | Liberal Conspiracy: I started scrolling through his followers li… http://t.co/jq5d2muG

  7. Natacha Kennedy

    Yet ANOTHER example of a dishonest Tory campaign using social media http://t.co/1XIjigpj

  8. Naomi TechNoir

    Yet ANOTHER example of a dishonest Tory campaign using social media http://t.co/1XIjigpj

  9. KF

    How did a Tory PPC get 50k Twitter followers? | Liberal Conspiracy: But Clarke has friends too – notably Harry C… http://t.co/8ZZOWNi0

  10. HC Winn

    How did Mark Clarke get 50k Twitter followers? http://t.co/a5UUfGq7

  11. David Davies

    How did a Tory PPC get 50k Twitter followers? ~ http://t.co/aLWVQ905

  12. Tim Maughan

    How did Mark Clarke get 50k Twitter followers? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/eNox3oLp via @libcon

  13. Neil Bradley

    I asked @mrmarkclarke whether he knew he had so many fake Twitter followers but he hasn't responded http://t.co/4EYnu3j2 Hehe

  14. Ermintrude

    How did Mark Clarke get 50k followers? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/VVKISBZF via @libcon why follower numbers are meaningless

  15. Mark Clarke’s fake Twitter followers: mystery deepens | Liberal Conspiracy

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

  16. @trabasack Duncan E.

    @simoncast maybe you didn't see this post http://t.co/7teYxFXK this guy has PI score of 71! Scroll through the followers, obvious fakes

  17. NORBET

    Looks like oleaginous Tory @MrMarkClarke may have been *buying* twitter followers http://t.co/vP3x67Xn (from @sunny_hundal)

  18. GB Republicans

    Looks like oleaginous Tory @MrMarkClarke may have been *buying* twitter followers http://t.co/vP3x67Xn (from @sunny_hundal)

  19. Sean Dodson

    @JimmyTLeach seems to be a bit of a trend. RT @libcon: How did a Tory PPC get 50k Twitter followers? http://t.co/dpZCbKdB

  20. Jimmy Leach

    @JimmyTLeach seems to be a bit of a trend. RT @libcon: How did a Tory PPC get 50k Twitter followers? http://t.co/dpZCbKdB

  21. Ian Clifford

    How a Tory PPC got 50k Twt fans? http://t.co/SnWPygjW Facebook likes also for sale: end of trust in #socialmedia #da12social @JimmyTLeach

  22. Why buying Twitter followers is a total waste of time | The Wall Blog

    […] case was recently highlighted on Sunny Hundal’s blog.  I’m surprised people are still doing it after the publicity surrounding the Gingrich […]

  23. sunny hundal

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

  24. Doug

    Is there anything about Tories that *isn't* fake, and based on lies? http://t.co/lynBsEFp http://t.co/QaBoWyae ht @libcon @zelo_street

  25. Jem Stone

    @suellewellyn @marcsettle See also http://t.co/MHUkZLiv & http://t.co/NsbIZwgu & http://t.co/9pxEQOAf

  26. Sue Llewellyn

    re buying followers RT @JemStone: @suellewellyn @marcsettle See also http://t.co/ucdyyEgK & http://t.co/c0dF6Okf & http://t.co/KExSM1l0

  27. marc blank-settle

    good reads > RT @suellewellyn: re buying followers RT @JemStone: See also http://t.co/pcg5CIC9 & http://t.co/WvpmmQkc & http://t.co/CW2mQRIZ

  28. Richard Bartholomew

    @sunny_hundal Looks like Mitt Romney was inspired by your piece here http://t.co/Gn1YFbTY about @MrMarkClarke: http://t.co/mzP6raSU

  29. Bryn Phillips

    http://t.co/99Hcalp7

  30. dan hancox

    @PeterBingle @jen725 I'm no expert, I just loathe him and I grew up in (Labour) Tooting. 08: http://t.co/wj7tB5yT now: http://t.co/eg01Lbpw





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