Did China’s State-Run News Agency Purchase Twitter Followers?

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua may have purchased followers on Twitter, according the co-founder of TwitterAudit, a tool designed to detect fake users on the popular social media platform.

An audit conducted last May on the “@XHNews” English Twitter feed suggested that only 11 per cent of the news agency’s followers were real. The tool sampled 5,000 of Xinhua’s 1.56 million Twitter followers, basing the score on how active and established the agency’s followers were.

It is possible that Xinhua purchased followers at some point in an attempt to appear more legitimate. In response to emailed questions, David Caplan, co-founder of TwitterAudit, wrote that “it is easy to purchase followers, just search Google. Lots of sites sell them.”