For the first time you will be reading a non-private banking related post on this site, I won’t make a habit of it, but today’s subject is plenty interesting and it’s a bit of a scoop. So I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. It’s about a Twitter superstar, a gentleman who has built his political career and image on his social media savvy and particularly the size of his Twitter following.
In addition to his impressive Twitter following he is a bit of a superhero. He can cycle around the world three times in one morning, swim all the lakes in Finland before lunch, run across the Mojave Desert in the afternoon (while updating his Twitter feed about the wondrous and heavenly nature of the European Union). He can do all these things without once losing his trademark smile, which is as wide and high as the Hoover Dam. All in all he is a one man torrent of physical fitness and positive energy. He is the Finnish Minister for International Trade and European Affairs Alex Stubb.
So why is a private banker writing about the minister? Well I came across something interesting. Mr. Stubb first came to my attention when a Finnish follower of mine Sami Makelainen had tweeted Mr. Stubb on a relevant issue. Not spammy at all, just a fair, normal run of the mill tweet. My friend received no reply, why should he? After all the minister does have a massive following, and his Twitter feed must be busier than a one-legged man in an ass kickin’ contest. He can’t be expected to answer each single tweet.
Here is one of the tweets from my friend to Mr. Stubb.
Here’s another one. Hardly inappropriate stuff.
Now is where things take an interesting turn. Shortly after I read an article in the New York Times about fake twitter following and discovered this site which measures fake following. I checked my own following (obviously) and then, because the exchange between my Finnish friend and I was fresh on my mind, I put in Mr. Stubb’s following and look what popped up:
It turns out that the minister’s real following is only a quarter of all of his followers. Alex Stubb has a fake Twitter following. It appears that the minister has perhaps been buying Twitterlove… A lot of it. Perhaps even 30 000 worth of it. What else could possibly explain the large fake following? To be sure, his real following is still Stubbstantial (get it, get it?) and the bigger your following the more inactive followers you are bound to have, but how many have followed Mr. Stubb because they read about his amazing Twitter following? (In articles such as this from CNBC for example) And isn’t it dishonest to globe trot the world swinging your big Twitterhood in everyone’s face, telling them that you are hung like a Twonkey when in reality, the effect has been reached by you spending money on Twiagra?
I informed my Finnish friend of my find, we both had a good laugh at it, then he discovered that he had been blocked by the minister. Blocked! (see below) For simply making a comment? Have another look at the above comments and ask yourself did the tweeter in question deserve to be blocked?
This is actually more important than one might at first think. As I mentioned above, it could’ve been that the minister was just so busy that he didn’t have the time to answer. The fact that my friend was blocked, tells you that his comment had been read, probably a few words had been discussed with an advisor and the managerial decision had been made to block this individual.
This is freedom of speech and open debate Mr. Alex Stubb style. In a world where Twitter has replaced the town hall as a means to communicate with your representatives, Stubb has gotten his goons to escort someone with differing views to his, out of the room. One can’t help but wonder what else he has his goons do?
So, in a nutshell, this is the Alex Stubb engagement strategy with you:
He paints a cheerful image of himself as approachable
He fakes his own popularity
He stifles debate by leveraging his own position of power.
Now is when it gets really interesting. Inspired by Mr. Stubb, I did a little experiment. I bought some Twitter love. I bought a block of 1000 followers to see how it affects the statistics. Before the experiment (May 21st) I had 2900 followers and the result looked like this:
Now I’ve worked hard during the lifetime of this blog to actively engage on Twitter and all of that following has been obtained by interaction with other tweeters. After purchasing a block of followers one would expect a sharp increase in the “Fake” category. Correct? Look at the result below. (In the interests of full disclosure it must be said that I did buy the followers through a company that guaranteed “real followers”)
Hardly any change! Just a small decrease in “Fakes” and a slight increase in “Inactives” (The above screen shot is from the 27th of May)
Has anyone got Mr. Stubb’s advisor’s Twitter address? I want to know what service he used to buy Mr. Stubb’s following.
Because now I’m thinking: What does a brother have to do around here to get a fake Twitter following?
It does look like I used a “quality” service provider. I have in fact done the Elliot Spitzer thing of Twitter love by buying the high class, expensive Twescorts. As for Mr. Stubb, they have obviously decided to go ghetto and buy the skanky crack hoes version of Twitter love.
When we look at Mr. Stubb’s Twitter behavior, one of his well known European colleagues comes to mind. Who does this remind you of? There’s a big party going on, some guests are lackeys, the rest are paid to be there and the host gets to think he must be more popular than Justin Bieber? Yes. Alex Stubb is the Silvio Berlusconi of Twitterdom. On the positive side, unlike another European politician; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Stubb hasn’t forced himself on anybody. Though unlike Bill Clinton, he does seem to have to pay for it.
I have no big issue with buying Twitter love, but if you build your image and popularity, screaming and shouting about it, showing it off to all and sundry as if it was an authentic thing, then you deserve to be called out about it.
In the words of Mythbusters: Busted!
Who else has been blocked by Stubb?
5/27/2013 08:48:26 am
Interesting. I decided to test my twitter account @reijoruokanen with the same tool. I have 1709 followers. I have never bought twitter love from anyone or anywhere.
According to Status People 14 % of my followers are fake. Who is buying me love without telling me?
5/27/2013 02:53:04 pm
Good observations. Faker Scores isn’t really a reliable measurement of fake or bought followers, however. The part about Alex Stubb blocking your friend doesn’t come as a surprise as he is known to have blocked several Twitter users for reasons that have remained unclear. We have compiled a list of some of these events (in Finnish): http://storify.com/FinlandInc/alex
We ask anyone who has been blocked by @alexstubb to contact us via https://twitter.com/FinlandInc
5/27/2013 06:00:15 pm
Little criticism to the source could be in order here. The fake detective site you are referring to is not any absolute power which can detect all fakes. The high amount of fakes in Alexander’s (as well as Mr. Ruokonen’s) followers is because of the peculiarities of the finnish language. It is stated to be one of the hardest languages in the world (even Google doesn’t master computerized understanding of it).
You’re article doesn’t make you sound very tech or internet savvy person, but you certainly are right on one thing. The blocking of followers sounds very strange.
5/27/2013 06:06:04 pm
Fake accounts (bots) tend to follow users that match a certain criterion, or are just highly active. So in the twitter-world you can easily have 10 % fake accounts following you without ever buying any.
About blocking accounts – how do we know what else the blocked accounts might’ve tweeted before they got blocked? These tweets could be removed. It’s also possible he is using automated spam filter (not working very well). I know its a long shot, but I highly doubt that a person like Stubb, who is really careful on how he is perceived, would block anyone.
5/27/2013 07:25:55 pm
About blocking accounts? Give me a break. Stubbs douchiness has been well documented for example in Storify (http://storify.com/FinlandInc/alex) and hes Stubbnes really shines through from the fact that he was already in school the main bully preying on the weaker students.
5/27/2013 07:11:00 pm
” I highly doubt that a person like Stubb, who is really careful on how he is perceived”
Stubb’s comment Nordic Council gathering: “What the fucking shit this is, couldn’t care less.”
Stubb’s tweet from Nordic Council gathering: “Great and lively debate!”
5/28/2013 12:58:41 am
What I know http://fakers.statuspeople.com/ flags as a fake those accounts with few or no tweets, following many but none or few followers. Alex has many Finnish followers that just register, follow few accounts and then become inactive. This are similar to fake accounts that are used to just boost follower counts You can easily attest this by checking https://twitter.com/alexstubb/followers
5/28/2013 01:05:37 am
Now you probably understand why our Minister Cai-Göran Alexander Stubb is not known as “Alexander the Great” but instead “Stubido”.
5/28/2013 04:22:41 pm
It’ll be early Christmas for us non National Coalition Party voters in Finland if Stubbido is ever selected to be their leader. Fake as hell and has absolutely no idea on what is going on outside Helsinki city centre.
TIRED OF THE FAKE SMILE
5/28/2013 10:29:50 pm
Alex Stubb is an opportunistic faker in everything he does.
1. His breakthrough in politics was being voted into the european parliament many years ago after massive positive propaganda campaign by establisment media which mostly support National Coalition Party which is intertwined with EK which is a lobby group for all big finnish companies.
The positive press he got then was unbelievable and it worked because he got the most votes in the whole of Finland.
Stubb seems to be buying fake followers because he can’t get the automatic boost he gets from old establisment media (which favors NCP) in the internet services like Twitter in any other way than buying.
2.Stubb is an image politician who was really pissed off at the publicity Timo Soini got from his writings in the Wall Street Journal about the debt crisis and against the bailouts and warning about Spain over a year in advance so Stubb HAD to get into WSJ too.
Did he do this by speaking/writing about his job as a minister of international trade and european affairs?
Did he do this by speaking/writing about finnish economy, european situation or to promote finnish export industry?
Of course NOT.
Stubb got into the pages of WSJ by telling about his passion for triathlon.
3. Stubb got to be a minister by accident because the previous NCP politician working as foreign minister (Ilkka Kanerva) was forced out because he wrote some sexy text messages to a local finnish celebrity “model”.
Stubb’s good friend Katainen engineered the exit of Kanerva and appointment of Stubb.
4. In the latest government Stubb did not get to keep his foreign minister status but he was instead specifically crafted his current minister position because Stubb is a fervent euro-federalist who salivates at giving all the political powers from Finland to Brussels.
Stubb believes in EU more than the most fanatic communists believed in the Soviet Union.
5. Stubb stated after the first greek bailout (translated from finnish): “Now things in Greece and elsewhere in europe are fine. It is idiot-populism to claim otherwise”
6. Other Stubb pearl of wisdom has been “if you watch hollywood movies how can you not support multiculturalism” and Stubb is in favor of loose immigration policy and he headlined a tour through Finland titled “let’s talk about immigration” where the crowd was filled with immigrant members of NCP to steer the conversation in immigration politics to only positive spin instead of discussing the problems that have been created in Finland (huge joblessness among some immigrant groups, large welfare dependency in some immigrant groups, much larger percentage of certain immigrant groups commit rapes and robberies than other immigrant groups or native finns, 50 schools in Helsinki are classified as multi-problematic by the authorities and get extra funding based on the amount of immigrants, NCP would like to combine forcefully Espoo and Vantaa into Helsinki because eastern Helsinki is turning into a cluster of immigrant ghettoes and finns and integrated immigrants are moving away from Helsinki because of the ghettoization and restlessness in schools).
If it were upto Stubb Finland would have already created similar nightmare ghettoes as Sweden has done with loose immigration policies and giving permits to stay and family re-unifications straight to welfare without any requirements to integrate even to those asylum seekers which are NOT refugees according to Geneva Convention and which many european countries are returning back to where they came from or at least not granting them family re-unification straight to welfare like sweden and to a certain extent Finland.
Finland always compares finnish immigration policies to sweden and since sweden is even looser it is always decided there is no need to tighten policies so Finland is creating the same kind of immigrant dominated nightmare ghettoes as sweden has done.
Only at a slower pace.
7. As his last acts as foreign minister Stubb did NOT do anything to correct the huge mistakes finnish foreign ministry made in their briefings to foreign journalists after the last parliamentary election where the foreign ministry chose to present to international media as their impartial expert Jan Sundberg who had already a) lied to the BBC about The Finns Party election manifesto comparing it to nazis when the election manifesto just stated that “women who study should be supported by the government to become mothers during their studies if they want to become mothers while studying”. Childlessness is increasing in Finland because many leave having kids too late because of studies and starting a career and because of preference from employers on childless women as employees.
b)Sundberg continued lying as “impartial expert” and again called The Finns Party nazis in the foreign ministry international press briefing without any intervention from the foreign ministry officials present.
c)Sundberg has been a member of RKP/SFP (finnish swe
5/30/2013 04:18:07 pm
What is the source for this one, pls:
“6. Other Stubb pearl of wisdom has been “if you watch hollywood movies how can you not support multiculturalism””
TIRED OF THE FAKE SMILE
5/28/2013 10:35:32 pm
c)Sundberg has been a member of RKP/SFP (finnish swedish speaking minority’s party) which declared The Finns Party as their main opponents during last parliamentary election because The Finns Party opposes the current policy of forcing every finnish kid to learn Swedish even though the swedish speaking minority is only 5% of Finnish people and The Finns Party has also stated that business done by large billion euro foundations should be taxed and basically lot of the center of Helsinki real estate is owned by taxfree foundations which distribute their tax free profits to only finns whose first language is swedish.
This would be like USA requiring everybody to learn spanish if they want to get through high school and permitting tax-free business by spanish speaking american controlled foundations which would distribute their taxfree profits to spanish speaking americans.
d)after the disgusting recording of Sundberg’s lies and demonization of The Finns Party at the foreign ministry event became public and caused a scandal online there was a newspaper article about this intentional destruction of Finland’s image abroad because political competition in forming the government inside Finland and Stubb was then in Finnish media saying how he is a great friend of Timo Soini and always spreads abroad the message that the Finns Party are OK to polish Stubb’s own image and to stop the press from looking any deeper into the Sundberg scandal and the destruction of finland’s image that he and Foreign ministry caused under Stubb.
This media posing despite Stubb NOT doing anything in his blog, twitter or through Foreign ministry which he still controlled during the difficult government forming negotiations to correct the damage caused by Stubb controlled foreign ministry in the first place by choosing as “impartial expert” Jan Sundberg who had already lied to the BBC and continued to lie at foreign ministry briefing of international media and was a member of competing political party who had declared the political party Sundberg was commenting about as their main opponents.
Stubb’s career should have ended after the Sundberg scandal but the same establishment media that originally made him a household name and a political superstar inside Finland shielded him and continue treating him with silk gloves and sweeping uunder the carpet all his mistakes and highlighting his empty rhetoric and posing as something really meaningful.
NCP grip on finnish media is much more powerful than Berlusconi’s grip of the italian media.
6/1/2013 03:44:17 am
Thank you all for your comments.
@ReijoRuokonen. Who has been buying you Twitter love? Probably no one. A percentage of 20% is apparently quite normal. But your figure is far away from Mr. Stubb’s is it not? So it does not explain his high figure.
@FinlandInc. You state that it is unreliable. If you could give some further information to back up that argument I would very much appreciate it. Reliable or not 50% is remarkably high.
@Herrasmies. You raise an interesting point regarding the Finnish language being a factor. But answer me this: Shouldn’t every Finn’s fake scores be high for your rationale to be valid? “Criticism of the source” for editorial reasons I used one source in the article. Feel free to check Mr. Stubb’s scores on other sites that offer the same service, you’ll find the figures consistent. Please explain. As for me not being tech savvy. I would absolutely agree. Although savvy enough to have exposed a minister for faking it. So how you like them apples?
@Stubbster. Same as the above arguments I make. 10% is a long ways away from 47%. “About blocking accounts – how do we know what else the blocked accounts might’ve tweeted before they got blocked?” If you are going to debate a point, you need to bring something to back up your opinion. I’m happy to retract my statement, if you show a clear case in which the gentleman in my post has tweeted Mr. Stub in a manner that is clearly rude or disrespectful.
@Finn. Most real people who open a Twitter account will tweet at least once. Think about that and have another peep at Mr. Stubb’s followers.
Gentlemen/ladies? I very much appreciate your input, but I look forward to you bringing a bit more meat to your rationale.
The fact remains that Mr. Stubb’s scores are exceptionally high. They deviate from the norm. No one has yet been able to explain this, it is therefore a valid question.
As for purchasing followers. There are two ways of doing it. Either like I did in my experiment, or then getting your supporters or employees to open fake accounts that follow you. Both qualify as “buying” followers.
It seems that very little interest is given to his blocking policy, which seems to spit at the face of civil and open discourse. An elected official should not be blocking views that differ from his own. He should be blocking spammers and those who behave inappropriately.
Expressing an opinion is only inappropriate in a dictatorship (and Mr. Stubb’s Twitter feed). It is for that reason that Mr. Stubb and his goons should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
Regarding all the comments above about his politics. I have no particular opinion of those, so am unable to comment, although I thank you all who have taken the time to comment.
As you can see, your opinion, even those who differed from mine, were allowed to express their opinion. Freedom of speech is the beginning of civil society. Thank you all for finding the time to contribute.
6/4/2013 06:13:12 pm
As per politicians faking on twitter, Mario Monti’s score is only 23% good, Obama 21%. Maybe it is a Twitter problem or should we assume they all buy followers?.
6/6/2013 06:18:19 am
Thanks for the comment. Assumption is the mother of all F ups, but seriously when the percentages are that high, the probability is high. I’ve mentioned several times the ways in which following can be bought. So yes I think there might be some of that involved.
6/4/2013 08:21:47 pm
Thanks for the reply. If you go through @alexstubb’s followers, you will see that there are a lot of new Finnish users who have no profile picture or haven’t tweeted yet. These are most likely real people who have just set up an account but don’t use it (yet) very actively. Finnish people have recently found Twitter and at the moment there seems to be some kind of a boom to join Twitter.
Twitter audit also gives a high percentage of fake followers to @alexstubb, but if you think the methodology “number of tweets, date of the last tweet, and ratio of followers to friends”, the large number of new followers may explain why it is so high. http://www.twitteraudit.com/alexstubb
If you create a new Twitter account in Finland, @alexstubb is one of the first users in the recommendations who to follow and many people take this recommendation and follow him. In the same way, our follower count started to rise rapidly when it was added as a recommended account. To give an example of this, the number of @alexstubb’s followers has increased 40% in less than six months.
— Jussi Salonranta (@jussisalonranta) January 25, 2013
In comparison, our follower count has gone up by 70% in about the same time.
We are honored to have @RenegadeEcon as our 2000th follower on Twitter. A humble thanks to everyone!
— Finland Inc. (@FinlandInc) December 16, 2012
It’s the boom. There is no need to buy followers. And as said before, the blocking habit is more interesting. Don’t know if you have seen this, but there was an article in a Finnish online magazine about your blog post which also dealt with the blocking part.
6/4/2013 11:15:55 pm
Interesting about the Twitter suggestions point – because any account that has appeared there regularly has a huge % of fake or empty accounts. @ladygaga – with 37 million followers – has 48% fake or empty accounts. So that could well be the explanation.
As for blocking – I don’t know what Stubb’s criterion is (personally I have found him fine – he replies to people, and is willing to engage on EU affairs anyway, and I work in that field) – but if he’s like loads of UK politicians then he is probably a bit too keen on the block button (it’s a regular occurrence across many, many large UK political accounts.
Fascinating post, and follow up questions, but we seem to have more questions than answers so far!
6/5/2013 04:30:20 am
Thanks for the comment Jon. My experience of his blocking is through someone I know from Twitter. So I agree that my data set is lacking. However it is reliable and it seems that it has brought more people out who have reported on the same problem. As I understand it, his blocking is very much towards other Finns.
The fact that British politicians do it, does not make it right. No one should have to put up with or engage with trolls and vitriol, but a politician should engage with those who approach them in a civil manner.
If anything, he should be answering questions regarding his blocking behaviour, which is worrying. The fake following stuff is just funny haha.
Perhaps I need to get back to blogging on banking.
6/5/2013 04:36:09 am
Thanks for finding the time to write such a thorough explanation. I love to see that when someone really puts some though into it.
The language and the new followers I am sure are a factor and the fact that he is so often recommended to new Finnish tweeters. When people do join up to twitter they do normally make at least one tweet, just to test what it’s all about. I would advise anyone to be very skeptical about those kinds of “followers” who have never tweeted.
Also with politicians there is an important thing called “plausible deniability” this is when the politicians minions do stuff that they do not tell to the politician, so that when caught the politician can honestly say they had no idea.
If I was a betting man and really wanted to do the research, I’d have a peek at the early “followers”.
If I were a political campaigner I’d get my volunteers to open several accounts to boost the following and I’d do this early on. I myself have found that the more followers you get the more followers you get, if you follow what I mean?
Taking into account the language, the fact that Twitter is “new” to the Finns the fact that there are so many bots out there, it still doesn’t explain the very high percentage, nearly 50% of “fakes”
We are definitely agreed on the distasteful practice of blocking legitimate questions. This he should be called out on. For that I do commend your work and urge you to keep at it. Perhaps you should start a #blockedbystubb hashtag on Twitter. Clearly he is obsessive about his image outside of Finland. So perhaps naming and shaming him in English would force him to start behaving in a manner more in tune with civil discourse and open debate.
8/19/2014 01:44:31 am
Alexander Stubb is now the Prime Minister of Finland..
GET TWITTER VERIFIEDLINK
4/2/2016 11:27:04 pm
The verification technique does have a useful purpose. Twitter brims with bogus or parody accounts. So when people are sifting by way of a summary of probable usernames, it helps to have indicators to help you locate the actual individual they need to stick to.
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