With a report by Media Chain revealing that some 36% of internet users class themselves as Premier League fans, Livefootballtickets.com took it upon themselves to explore the nature of such fans' interaction with the clubs of choice. And seeing as plenty of supporting is done online through social media, they delved into the 20 Premier League clubs' Twitter followers.
Uncovering the fact that each club's Twitter numbers were being boosted by hundreds of thousands if not millions of fake followers, Livefootballtickets.com have shone a light on the proliferation of spam, bots, and fake accounts using the Fake Followers Audit tool on SparkToro, showing that 35.6% of Burnley FC’s 400,000 Twitter followers are fake - some 142,000 accounts.
The figure means the Clarets have the 10th-highest percentage of fake followers - such accounts being defined as unreachable either because they’re spam, bots, propaganda, etc. or because they’re no longer active on Twitter.
Top of the list for the highest percentage of fake supporters was Liverpool, for whom 43.1% of their 11.2m followers were found to be fake, amounting to some 4.83m accounts. Boasting a lower percentage (42%), Manchester United were nevertheless found to have more fake followers overall, however, by dint of them having an eye-popping total of 19.1m Twitter followers, 8m of which are fake.
Also high up the list were Arsenal, who have 14.2m followers, 40.5% of whom are fake, amounting to some 5.8m, while at the other end of the spectrum, Wolverhampton Wanderers have the lowest percentage of fake followers with just 27.9%, amounting to a still-impressive 109,000 fake accounts.
“With the world like it is today, it’s no wonder we are beginning to approach social media in a cautious manner," said Stefan Balkenende, a spokesperson from Livefootballtickets.com. "If you are concerned about the activity you are exposed to, check your settings and privacy section. Taking Twitter as an example, you can mute people who don’t have a default profile photo, who haven’t confirmed their email and their phone number; this won’t hide all inauthentic accounts, but it might help slim down the chances of coming across suspect activity.
"It’s right to think smart about social media, but don’t let it make you feel like you can’t engage with your team and fellow fans on platforms like Twitter," Stefan added. "Social media is a fantastic space to stay informed on all things football; be it scores, transfers or the sackings of your favourite players and managers!"