Newt Gingrich has a lot of Twitter followers: 1,325,840 to be precise. That puts him far ahead of other GOP notables like Michele Bachmann (65,000), Mitt Romney (62,000), and Rick Perry (50,000). Unsurprisingly, Gingrich is proud of his social media skills, telling the Marietta Daily-Journal this week that he had “six times as many Twitter followers as all the other candidates combined.”
But today Gawker released an e-mail from an anonymous former Gingrich staffer, who claims that Gingrich bought fake followers to boost his Twitter numbers:
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. … 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.
The Gingrich campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE: Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond denies the story, telling National Review Online that the claim is “a false accusation which will hurt the feelings of 1.3 million people. #rude.”
Hammond also has a request: “PS: be sure to follow us @newtgingrich.”