The Internet Strikes Again: Celebrities Buying More Twitter Followers Than You Think

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I recently read an article by a college student expressing her fear that this generation of kids is growing up in a world where self-esteem is measured by the number of likes on their profile pictures. And judging from the Facebook pages of the girls in my brother's high school sophomore class… the concern is legitimate.

Luckily, American youth have the distinguished honor of growing up in a culture inundated with celebrities who demonstrate the inextricable link between self-worth and social media. And recently, thanks to an infographic by Social Selling University, we all learned just how far celebrities and their PR teams will go to make celebrities feel good about themselves so they don't turn to alcohol and drugs and clubbing with Paris Hilton and rack up 17 or so DUIs and then spend six months in rehab where no one makes money except Dr. Drew and VH1.

You know how celebs are always tweeting things like, “OMG 6,000,000 followers, thnx SOOO much. I have the best Twitter fam evs!” Well, it's time to call some serious bullshit – and not just on the fact that they're really just to busy to type those extra to letters required to spell words correctly. (Ha. ha. See what I did there?)

According to the brilliant minds at Social Selling University who combed through each and every one of the millions of Twitters followers of each celebrity (no but seriously, how did they come up with this data?), an absurd amount of Twitter followers are fake. And I don't mean those random follows you get from accounts where the info section says (No idea if that's a real website, no desire to find out.) I'm talking real live fake accounts, created for the sole purpose of following a celeb that buys them. And yes kids, I'm talking about Bieber.

Out of 27,176,769 followers that Mr. Bieber is so proud to have, only 7,881,263 are real active accounts (as of Aug. 28). That's less than Ashley Tisdale. (Then again you can bet her people are up with the whole buying followers thing so her number is probably void as well.) The point is, this infographic is telling me that only 29% of Justin Bieber‘s beloved worldwide-trend-starting followers are real Twitter-active Beliebers – 40% are inactive, while 31% are straight up fake.

At least that's not as bad as Lady Gaga, whose hardworking PR team bought her 34% of her Twitter followers (undoubtedly to top the Biebs) or Twitter's own Twitter, which has a whopping 37% fake accounts. They know how the game is played.

How do you buy these Twitter followers you ask? Oh, eBay. It's casual. Check it out – there are tons of entries for Twitter followers. So while my mind is still gathering itself and slowing its breathing back down to a normal pace after being blown, apparently this whole thing isn't even a big secret!

My only concern right now is for poor naive Justin, just basking in the glory of his “27 million” followers, feeling all great about himself, pumping out upbeat tracks and dating cute little Disney girls, blissfully ignorant of the fact that half of them were a birthday present from his PR guys. What if word gets back to him about this? I'm picturing full on emo Bieber – black hair, even skinnier jeans, songs just riddled with angst about growing up and learning that his whole world was a lie (What is Justin Bieber's whole world if not Twitter?). I don't know about you, but color me concerned.

Now if you'll excuse me – I've been feeling a little down on myself today and the bidding window for “10,000 LEGITIMATE TWITTER FOLLOWERS” is closing in half an hour.

Photo: Twitter, @justinbieber