Special Report

American Politicians With the Most Fake Social Media Followers

Social media has given politicians an online bullhorn to express their opinions while amassing thousands and sometimes millions of followers. However, as with famous people in other walks of life, their actual number of followers may be smaller than they claim – once the fakes are filtered out. (Away from the political realm, here are the celebrities with the most fake Instagram followers.) 

To assemble a list of the 15 politicians (one of them, No. 1 on our list, is an ex-elected official but still politically active) with the highest percentage of fake followers, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a study published by the financial news site Trading Pedia which used data on real and fake Instagram followers from Modash and Twitter followers from Followeraudit. Trading Pedia chose which politicians to track – five Republicans and 10 Democrats – by consulting the research and analytics company YouGov as well as other media publications to choose the most popular figures of them overall.

For many elected officials, the number of followers ranks with the masses of digital devotees of athletes and entertainment figures. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been all of those things – actor, athlete, and politician. Perhaps because of his varied occupations, the ex-bodybuilder from Austria  – and ex-two-time-governor of California – has the highest percentage of bogus followers by far, at more than 20%. (Read about America’s most popular governors.)

The next three pols with the highest percentage of fake followers are all Republicans — former vice-president Mike Pence, Sen. Mitt Romney, and former president Donald Trump. Trump’s Twitter account was suspended by the social media company in the days after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol Building “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” according to Twitter. His account was reinstated in November 2022 after Elon Musk bought the social media company.

Click here to see the American politicians with the most fake social media followers

Trump is one of three people on the list claiming more than 100 million followers. The others are former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden. Obama has the most with 169,100,000, and he also has the most phony followers with a total of 17,460,490 – though by percentage he is just 12th on the list.

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