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Analysis shows Gingrich’s large twitter following mostly non-human

There’s little doubt that Newt Gingrich will be able to take a swing through Iowa before the 2012 caucuses without being under the veil of some national controversy, but it won’t be during his upcoming appearances.

Three days ago, The Marietta Daily Journal published an interview with Gingrich that detailed how he was going to overcome the negativity that has surrounded his campaign. Of course, there was some media bashing involved. But Gingrich also referenced a Politico article that gauged candidates on their Twitter presence.

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/gingrich_125.jpg“And it says, ‘now it’s true that Gingrich has 1.3 million followers and (Michele) Bachmann only has 59,000, but she’s getting more new people every week.’ It turned out I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined, but it didn’t count because if it counted I’d still be a candidate; since I can’t be a candidate that can’t count,” Gingrich told the Daily Journal. “So we’ve been a little bit like a sailing ship in the middle of a hurricane in which we are sailing straight into the teeth of the media, and that slowed us down.”

And, if you visit Gingrich’s Twitter page, it clearly states that he has (as of 8:30 CST) a total of 1,326,129 followers — well above all the other 2012 GOP candidates.

Unfortunately, recent analysis by PeekYou, a New York-based search company, identified the large gap between perception and reality last week during a testing session for its soon-to-launch service, PeekAnalytics, in which the company compiled a “Followers Report” on all 2012 candidates.

The service looks at and identifies a “consumer ratio,” or the percentage of Twitter audience that is identified as a “consumer” versus businesses, private/anonymous and spam accounts. An average range is about 30 to 60 percent human, depending on the type of account. But Gingrich’s account was at 8 percent — the lowest the team had seen by more than five percentage points.

“We have seen some pretty low consumer ratios in our testing, but Newt Gingrich’s was the lowest we had ever seen,” said Michael Hussey, chief executive and founder of PeekYou. “At first, we actually thought it might have been a bug on our side, but a quick manual look at the data showed our analysis was true.”

What the ratio means, acording to Hussey, is that Newt’s true follower count is only about 8 percent of his total — or 106,055 actual people. Further analysis by PeekYou showed that of those roughly 100,000 real people followers, about 60 percent are male, 40 percent are over the age of 35 and 60 percent have only about 100 connections on Twitter.

To make matters worse for Gingrich, a former staffer told Gawker that “Newt employs a variety of agencies whose sole purpose is to procure Twitter followers for people who are shallow/insecure/unpopular enough to pay for them.” The former staffer estimated that 80 percent of the accounts set up by the agencies were fake.

R.C. Hammond, press secretary for Gingrich, told ABC News that they’ve “never utilized firms, agencies or outside organization to inflate Newt’s Twitter followers.”

Gingrich returns to Iowa this week for a house party in Des Moines and a 2nd District GOP event in Tiffin.

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