Just last night, online analysis of Vice President PML-N Maryam Nawaz’s Twitter account revealed that behind the politician’s vast fan following, there is serious evidence to suggest that it is the result of systematic use of online bot and/ or fake accounts. Punjab information minister, Fayyazul Hasan Chohan, alleged that 80% of Nawaz’s Twitter followers are “fake”.
Follower's Analysis of Maryam Nawaz Sharif Twitter account
*Total Followers 5,592,493
*1,071,309 (1 million followers have 0 followers)
*743,906 followers have 1 follower
*1,439,946 followers have 2 to 5 followers
— meddy tweets (@meddytweets) October 3, 2020
“Breaking the key figures down, the thread highlighted that out of a total of 5,592,493 followers on her Twitter account, it can be observed that approximately 1 million accounts have no followers whatsoever, 743,906 accounts have only a single follower, and 1,439,946 accounts have between 2 to 5 followers; which leaves approximately 2,408,000 followers that could potentially be termed as partially organic in nature”, reported Siasat News Pakistan.
“This indicates that these accounts are either recently made, or are not being effectively used to reach out and interact with the wider community. As the thread points out by dissecting the age of the accounts, 1898 accounts were created on the day this analysis was conducted (24th September), 37,204 accounts were created a day prior, and 297,537 accounts were created throughout the remainder of September. The assertion that these accounts could have been made recently, can be deemed to be accurate, as thousands of accounts have been systematically generated on a daily basis.”
Read more: Maryam Nawaz is an ill-mannered woman: Amir Liaqat
“In terms of the organic online activity of these alleged bot accounts, it can be observed from the thread that 2,031,918 accounts have yet to post a single tweet, 685,416 accounts posted only a single tweet, and 1,006,024 accounts have posted between 2 to 5 tweets in total. This is entirely reflective of the fact that a large chunk of these accounts are inorganic, and have only been used to “like” and “retweet” Maryam Nawaz’s activity on the platform, and to artificially inflate her growing number of followers”, added Siasat News.
“Begum Safdar Awan has surpassed everyone even in Twitter rigging,” Chohan said, referring to the PML-N leader’s husband’s name. He further added that while it is not surprising that hundreds of thousands of followers of her Twitter account are “fake”, it is “astonishing that the number approaches 80%”. Chohan claimed that out of approximately 5.5 million total followers, 5.19 “have not liked a single tweet” by Maryam. He also claimed that 2.37 million followers are “dead” accounts.
Terming the PML-N leader a “Calibri queen” — after her Calibri font scandal — he said that 1,898 followers had created their Twitter accounts on the same day. Casting further aspersions on her followers, he said that one million followers have no followers of their own.
Read more: Maryam Nawaz’s Manolo Blahnik shoes steal spotlight away from her politics at APC
Responding to the claims, PML-N spokesperson in Punjab, Uzma Bukhari said that the people are crying over skyrocketing prices of wheat flour and sugar and all the minister can bother with is Maryam Nawaz’s Twitter account. She accused the PTI of not being able to bear the “growing popularity of Maryam Nawaz”.
“Pakistan’s youth considers Maryam one of their favourite leaders,” she said. “Imran Niazi has inducted people into his cabinet who do nothing but bad mouth others and are being paid from the government’s coffers for it,” she added.
Siasat News confirmed that the investigation into Nawaz’s twitter account concluded that 76% of her followers on Twitter comprise of fake bot accounts, all of which are used to artificially generate online traction around the politician – adding that out of her approximately 5.5 million followers, 5.19 million have never “liked” or “retweeted” her tweets, indicating that these accounts could be dormant. Chohan, of course, only further reaffirmed this.
Siasat News reports that according to an independent Karachi-based data scientist, it can be observed through this data analysis that “the levels of engagement are quite low”, and that building an army of online bots is meant to act as “more of an ego boost” which “doesn’t really translate into much online” – citing his prior work on online bot networks, which revealed that “a heavy volume of nodes (people) have either 0 or 1 connections – for the PML-N accounts”.
Read more: PMLN thinks Maryam & Nawaz Sharif are Ertugrul Ghazi
When asked if these online bots can be geo-located, reported and shut down, he added that most bot accounts do not accurately share their locations. If they are part of a “bot farm”, the platform’s algorithm can detect and remove them accordingly.
It was also mentioned that online Twitter audit tools are “not accurate”, and that they only use a limited dataset of 5000 followers to make relevant assertions, adding that a broad array of variables, including account creation date, number of followers, accounts being followed, etc, are necessary to attain a richer and comprehensive analysis.
“Pakistanis are well aware of Calibri queen Begum Safdar Awan’s clever schemes,” Chohan lamented.