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Fake followers of F1 favourites

Hamilton has more than five-and-a-half million followers on Twitter, but about a third seem bogus

It’s the F1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone this weekend which means many from London and the south-east will be headed up the M1, M40, A5 or taking a “quick route only we know” over the coming days to take in the spectacle in Northamptonshire.

Doubtless many of them will be followers of current F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. But, how many of them actually “follow” Hamilton on Twitter?

Research carried out by private number plates company Click4reg.co.uk suggests the figure is not as big as it might appear.

The research concludes that 34.3% of Hamilton’s followers are, to use a currently popular word – fake!

Even allowing for these figures, Hamilton still has the biggest following among F1 drivers who have a personal Twitter account (two – Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel – don’t have one).

The research showed that:

  • Daniil Kvyat, of team Toro Rosso, is the driver with the most fake followers – 62.5% of his 166,000 aren’t genuine.
  • Lewis Hamilton, Grand Prix points leader is seventh worst for numbers of fake followers.
  • Of his much more conservative 71,200 Twitter followers, British competitor George Russell, has a much smaller fake followers count at 24.6%.
  • The driver with the smallest percentage of fake followers is Alexander Albon – only 23.3% of his 31,900 followers are spam/bots.

Last November, Instagram cracked down on celebrities and influencers with followers who aren’t genuine. This ‘purge’ reduced significant numbers of fake, inactive, spam, bots, or as often discovered – bought – followers.

Why buy followers? Users may do so to appear more influential, to harness more media and therefore commercial attention, among other reasons. 

But Instagram isn’t the only social platform faced with this issue.

Twitter has battled the problem of bots and spam accounts for many years.

So, with the British Grand Prix as its cue, Click4reg wanted to discover how many followers of the 20 competing F1 drivers are fake. 

UsingSparkToro’s Fake Followers Audit Toolthe Twitter handle of each driver was inserted to calculate the average percentage of fake followers*.

This is probably one of the only pole positions a driver wouldn’t want.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat finds himself in the top spot – 62.5% of his 166,000 followers were evaluated as being not genuine. This potentially cuts his authentic following from (approximately) 166,000 down to just 62,000.

Kevin Magnussen, of team Haas, has the next highest number of fake followers – of his 470,000, more than half (53.3%) were deemed to be fake.

The drivers which make up the remaining top 10 include: Robert Kubica (48.6%), Sergio Pérez (40.5%), Romain Grosjean (40.2%), Nico Hülkenberg (35.8%), Lewis Hamilton (34.3%), Daniel Ricciardo (33.1%), Carlos Sainz (32.9%) and Max Verstappen(32.1%).

Which drivers have the fewest fake followers?

With the smallest percentage of ingenuine Twitter followers, Alexander Albon is the most genuine driver in this study – only 23.3% of his followers are fake. But then he does only have 31,900 followers in the first place.

In second place, with 24.6% of fake followers, is British driver George Russell.

And, in increasing percentages, the remaining and next best drivers for fewest fake followers include: 

Lando Norris (25.8%), Antonio Giovinazzi (27%), Lance Stroll (27.7%), Charles Leclerc (28.4%), Pierre Gasly (30%) and, finally, Valtteri Bottas (31.3%).

We’re sure that many a British F1 fan will be hoping all the other drivers will be “following” Hamilton this weekend.

*According to the research tool used, ‘fake followers’ are defined as accounts that are unreachable and will not see the account’s tweets (either because they’re spam, bots, propaganda etc. or because they’re no longer active on Twitter). Each audit analyses a sample of 2,000 random accounts that follow {insert Twitter handle}, then looks at 25+ factors correlated with spam/bot/low quality accounts. None of these, alone, indicate a spam/bot/low quality account; but, when many factors are present, there’s a strong correlation with low quality. Factors like Display Name, Tweet Language and Over Sharing, for example.   

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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