What Donald Trump Doesn’t Want You To Know About His Twitter Followers
It turns out a substantial chunk of PresidentDonald Trumps followers on Twitter hail from shadowy, anonymous sources.
Ajust-published investigation of @RealDonaldTrumps more than 27 million Twitter followers by Bloomberg Businessweek found that about 28 percent are eggs.Literally, that means, for one reason or another, about 7.5 million followers have opted to stick with the default profile illustration, rather than adding their own photo. (Until earlier this month, Twitters default illustration was an egg, hence the name.)
But in practice, the most suspect account on Twitter is the egg. All too many of these accounts are launched by people who dont want to be identified or even associated with what theyre saying. Eggsare the internet equivalent of someone who doesnt stand by their work.Twitter dropped the iconbecause it had become synonymous with trolls and bullying.
Bloomberg also found that Trumps most vociferous supporter in terms of tweeting at the president is probably a bot (although not technically an egg):
Trumps most prolific respondent, @Trump2016_Fan, has posted more than 18,000 times in the past year, mostly all-caps messages of support for the 45th president. The account appears to be automated and did not respond to a request for an interview.
Alexander Taub, co-founder of Social Rank, which provided the data to Bloomberg, said none of this should be surprising. Popular Twitter accounts like Trumps tend to attract fake and otherwise dubious followers. And bots are, as Bloomberg noted, a rampant part of life on Twitter.
But for Trump, a man obsessed with crowd sizeand popularity metrics of all kinds, it does matter and for more than just the optics.Theres power in numbers, and the extra millions of supportive eggs and bots can boost his message, even when we dont know whos behind them.
Sure, people would pay attention to the presidents tweets no matter how many followers he had. But unlike real followers who may dissent from time to time, Twitter eggs (at least many of them) will happily parrotwhatever those tweets may be.
And Trumps amplified messages have real-world implications.
So real that after his election, Mexican peso traders half-joked that it would be cheaper to buy Twitter outright and shut it down than to continue burning through foreign currency reserves to defend the peso from Trumps tweets.
The White House seems to understand very well the impact of anonymous voices on the internet. Earlier this week, a Twitter lawsuit revealed that the Trump administration was attempting to force the company to identify the person behind an anonymous account critical of the president.
The Trump administration dropped the effortafter it went public.