Expect some red faces in social medialand today, after Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli accused a number of big brands and celebrities of buying followers on Twitter. They include Diddy and 50 Cent, alongside Pepsi, Mercedes-Benz and Louis Vuitton. The Diddy stats don’t look good: the researchers claim he gained 185,399 new Twitter followers on a single day last June – 3,063% more than his average daily adds – but then lost 393,665 one day last month. It’s a pattern that suggests a bulk-buy of followers, followed by a big drop when Twitter gets round to deleting the fake accounts. It would be a strange situation if Diddy had bought fake followers: no matter how much you shout at an internet bot about how marvellous Ciroc vodka is, it’s unlikely to buy any. Some of the brands accused in the study are saying their sharp follower spikes are due to ad campaigns, including promoted tweets on Twitter itself. We’ll await more information from Diddy on whether he is pleading a similar defence.

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