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Newt Gingrich Accused of Buying Twitter Fans

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Okay, of all the things that Newt Gingrich has been called or been accused of, this doesn't rank as the worst. But if true, it still represents a duplicity that should give his supporters some pause.

Despite commanding an astounding 4% among potential Republican presidential candidates -- trailing the likes of Herman Cain and Rick Perry -- Gingrich complained that the press not giving him the recognition he deserves. Especially when he has so many Twitter followers!

"I have six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined," Gingrich boasted, "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."

Technically, his math is accurate, as Gawker points out. Gingrich currently has 1,325,903 followers. Neither Mitt Romney nor Michelle Bachman have cracked 100K. But a former staffer attributes this not to overwhelming charisma but the willingness to hire a firm to boost his numbers with fake accounts. Courtesy of Gawker:

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. As you might guess, Newt is most decidedly one of the people to which these agencies cater.

About 80 percent of those accounts are inactive or are dummy accounts created by various "follow agencies," another 10 percent are real people who are part of a network of folks who follow others back and are paying for followers themselves (Newt's profile just happens to be a part of these networks because he uses them, although he doesn't follow back), and the remaining 10 percent may, in fact, be real, sentient people who happen to like Newt Gingrich. If you simply scroll through his list of followers you'll see that most of them have odd usernames and no profile photos, which has to do with the fact that they were mass generated. Pathetic, isn't it?

It does seem fishy that Newt would have more followers than former reality show star Sarah Palin.

Unless this is a sign of a raging resurgence of '90s nostalgia, it's likely that the numbers have been intentionally or unknowingly cooked.

(See also: White House Joke Ill-Timed, Ridiculously Unfunny and Congress Tweeting 30% Less Since Weinergate)

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