Tens of thousands of fake followers descend on Mark Lewis after — irony of ironies — his Twitter account is hacked.
A few months ago phone-hacking lawyer Mark Lewis had around 3,000 Twitter followers. Respectable, but frankly a little disappointing for someone of his formidable media profile. Lewis — who shot to fame representing the Dowler family in their case against the News of the World — has a whole section of the Guardian website devoted to him, after all.
Then, over the spring, Lewis’ Twitter follower numbers suddenly began to rocket, soaring to over 60,000 to make him the most followed British lawyer on the social networking site. Now he has even more followers than King of the Legal Twittersphere Jack of Kent (aka David Allen Green, the lawyer and journalist).
Such has been Lewis’ incredible follower growth that he was at one stage pulling in more Twitter disciples than Brazilian football legend Pelé — quite an achievement in World Cup year.
Alas, all is not what it seems. When Legal Cheek ran Lewis’ Twitter account through several social media monitoring services* we found that a high proportion of his followers are fakes. Below are a sample.
At which point we contacted Lewis. He told us that the new followers were the result of a hack, commenting:
“I managed to get hacked and infiltrated by a load of random individuals going up in number of followers by almost 55/60,000 at one point. So far about 20,000 apparently bogus followers have disappeared (I am pleased to note), at one time it had shot up to nearly 80,000. The added numbers have reduced at a much slower rate than they were added. I have had to change my password on several occasions.”
Lewis added that he suspects that the attacks are related to “my interventions in the gun law debate in the US or my interest in Middle Eastern Politics”. He added:
“I get far more abuse/attack than I would like or was used to. I should add that I live in the US at the moment which might also account in a small way for the spurt in followers. I spend much of the time here. Only one person contacted me to say that she had found herself following me even though she hadn’t knowingly followed me. Of course, anyone who is following me that doesn’t wish to can and should ‘unfollow’ me. It really is that simple.”
*Legal Cheek uses three Twitter monitoring services: Twitter Counter, Status People Fake Followers Check and Twitter Audit. Individually, these sites are not always accurate, but together they provide an indication of when followers may have been bought or acquired by auto-follow software.
Twitter Counter is a third party application for Twitter.
Status People works by taking a sample of “up to 1,000 records” of follower data, which it then assesses against spam criteria such as accounts that tend to have few or no followers and few or no tweets. The Telegraph has described its methodology as “limited as it only looks at a person’s most recent 10,000 followers”.
Twitter Audit, which is not affiliated to Twitter in any way, takes a random sample of 5,000 Twitter followers for a user and calculates a score for each follower. It admits that this scoring method “is not perfect”.
The QC who has been hauling in more Twitter followers than the Pope and Stephen Fry [Legal Cheek]
The legal profession has a problem with fake Twitter followers too [Legal Cheek]