Last week, Zelo Street published an item on right-wing group blog The Commentator and its Twitter feed, where the nature of its following was considered. The response from their “editors” was furious, and included the assertion that I had accused them of purchasing followers, which was then repeated. But I had not made any such accusation. The Commentator had needlessly overreacted.
As so often with this kind of thing, the thought enters that this may have been an attempt to shout “look over there” and distract anyone from further examination. But what the assembly of righteousness at The Commentator may not have known was that I was also examining the Twitter feed of owner and publisher Robin Shepherd at the time, and have investigated further in the intervening period.
Here is a three month analysis of the number of accounts that Shepherd follows: note that for almost two months, he appears to add fourteen to that number every day – the period is actually 57 days. That’s iron discipline for you. Of course, there can be no influence on the number of followers, because that is down to the impulse or preference of a huge number of disparate individuals.
Here is an analysis of the same period for Shepherd’s followers. For that same period of 57 days, nineteen accounts are added daily to his total. That’s a net addition of the same number every day for a period of 57 consecutive days. Penny numbers like ones and twos might be credible, but nineteen every day for 57 days?
While you’re having a think about that one, here’s the analysis of The Commentator’s feed for the same period. Note that for all but 50 days, the number of accounts followed remains constant. Then, from June 15, that number increases by one every day for a further 30 days. It’s no big deal.
Then look at the analysis of The Commentator’s followers. The number increases over that initial 50 day period by 22 per day – yes, by the same net amount every day for 50 consecutive days. Moreover, from June 15, the number increases to 31, and the follower number then increases by 31 every day for another 30 consecutive days. What kind of coincidence is that?
Note that I make no accusation of misbehaviour against Robin Shepherd, Raheem Kassam, Dane Vallejo or anyone else involved with The Commentator, nor any assertion of malpractice. Nor do I make any accusation of follower purchase or any other deliberate attempt to falsely boost follower numbers. I am merely presenting the numbers.
So, folks, do we get another patronising post on The Commentator? Do all concerned keep schtum and attempt to ignore me? Or does someone explain what these figures show? In your own time, no pressure.