Is Twitter Inflating Celebrity Follower Numbers?

By Tuesday, January 15, 2013 0 Permalink 0

Just three short days ago I tweeted a story about how Pinterest was inflating their follower numbers by forcing new users to select categories of pins and boards to follow automatically. When you sign up for a new Pinterest account, they force you to select categories (there is no skip option) and sign you up to follow 50+ boards immediately (on average). The article I read compared the Pinterest new user flow to the Twitter user flow, and they were quite different.

Not anymore!

Tonight I was helping a local band set up a Twitter account and noticed that their on-boarding process has changed dramatically in the last 3 months (since the article was published). Twitter is now following Pinterest’s lead and FORCING you to follow people immediately. Before you even confirm your email address they force you to follow a minimum of 10 people before they will take you to the we are all used to seeing (main page with ‘news feed’ of followers). The only way I found to get out of this forceful following is to change the URL in your browser back to and ignore the ‘Welcome’ screens.

Even then I was taken to a page that suggested followers (all verified accounts) for me:

I understand that they are trying to make the experience better for new Twitter users by showing them the follow process, and then it makes it easier to understand the ‘wall feed’, but I just feel like forcing people to follow others isn’t the correct way to go about introducing new users to how your site operates.

Who does Twitter want you to follow? Apparently only their verified accounts (aka the people who likely pay for accounts/features/promotions/ads etc). See the following screenshots to see the people it suggested insisted I follow before being allowed to tweet.

While I understand Pinterest’s argument that it is nice to start out following people because it enhances the experience of the site, I do *NOT* appreciate being forced to follow five accounts before I am able to move to the next level where I have to pick a category, and then follow an additional five people before I am allowed to tweet and express my opinion.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get ahold of anyone at Twitter if you are not a celebrity? What if your trademark is being infringed? Band name/Startup/Business name is taken and you own the rights? Good fucking luck getting the attention from anyone at Twitter. They could care less about you and your name.  I’ve only ever been able to penetrate Twitter’s walls because of friends of friends (which I am FOREVER grateful for – and haven’t shared the details with anyone – I swear!). Their site is atrocious and hard to navigate, making it impossible to find the correct area to petition the right to own your name. Then what? You NEVER get an email back. Sorry for the rant. Obviously dealing with Twitter handle issues at the moment.

Back to my point. No wonder Bieber has so many followers. He is on the top of the list for both general (forced) followers and music (forced) followers.

If Justin Bieber’s numbers are inflated, how many others are also?

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