Twitter users interested in finding out how many of their followers are fake now have a free tool to aid them in their investigation.
A social media analytics company called Socialbakers is offering Fakefollowers, a free tool that the company says will determine what percentage of your Twitter faithful are fake, inactive or good.
Fakefollowers is a cinch to use. You simply type in your Twitter account name and click the virtual button labeled “check.”
Before doing that though, you should choose whether you want to follow Socialbakers on Twitter. You do that by checking or unchecking a box below the “check my account” field. The default value for the box is “follow.”
After clicking the check button, you’ll be taken to a screen that informs you what the app will be able to do if you authorize it to access your account. For example, it will be able to read tweets from your timeline, see who you follow and follow new people, update a profile and post tweets to you.
The app won’t access your direct messages or see your Twitter password.
After authorizing Fakefollowers to access your Twitter account, it will present you with stats on your followers — how many are fake or empty, inactive or good. I was relieved to discover that most of my followers were good (87 percent) and that very few (2 percent) were fake or empty.
According to Socialbakers, if from zero to 20 percent of your followers are fake, your account is solid and you have nothing to worry about.
If your fake or empty followers score is in the 20 to 50 percent range, caution is in order. However, if you have a large number of followers, racking up a score in that range can be expected.
A fake or empty score in the 50 to 70 percent bracket is a cause for concern, and a score more than 70 percent suggests that your account has been compromised, and it may be time to create a new one.
Socialbakers identifies fake or empty accounts based on a number of criteria. They include:
The ratio of following to followers is less than 50:1
Tweets repeatedly include spam phrases like diet, make money and work from home
Tweets are repeated more than three times
More than 90 percent of the account’s tweets are retweets
More than 90 percent of tweets are links and the account has a following to followers ratio of 7:1 or greater.
The account has never tweeted
You can use Fakefollowers up to 10 times a day, and you can use it on any Twitter account. So you could see how many fake accounts are following your favorite celebrity or if a business competitor is padding their Twitter following.
By the way, Socialbakers’ Twitter account, which has almost 23,000 followers, has only 2 percent fake and 2 percent inactive accounts.
John Mello writes on technology and cyber security for a number of online publications and is former managing editor of the Boston Business Journal and Boston Phoenix. Disclosure: He also writes for Hewlett-Packad's marketing website TechBeacon.