Ron's 'Twittergate' sparks stormSeptember 5, 2012 @ 9:24 am (Updated: 3:26 pm - 9/5/12 )
Controversy is swirling in the KIRO Twittersphere after Ron Upshaw suddenly boasted over 36,000 followers on his Twitter page, far surpassing many of Seattle's most popular personalities.
In an experiment inspired by a recent New York Times story, Upshaw admits he spent $10 on a service that provides fake followers to an account to boost their cache. The next thing he knew, his account was inundated with supposed followers.
"It just kept going. Once it got on it was like a freight train," Upshaw says. "You would have thought that I robbed a bank."
He thought it was a joke. But others didn't find it nearly as funny. One angry listener sent a number of emails questioning his credibility.
The practice is far from a secret. Even the biggest names have artificially inflated accounts. The New York Times reports 71 percent of Lady Gaga's nearly 29 million followers are fake or inactive. So are 70 percent of President Obama's nearly 19 million followers, according to the web measuring site StatusPeople.
"I didn't put a tremendous amount of thought into this, but what I thought was this would be funny to try out."
Upshaw says he was inspired in part out of curiousity, and in part to mess with some of the people who take Twitter so seriously. Little did he know they'd fail to find the humor.
Upshaw doesn't apologize if some feelings got hurt in the experiment.
"I still don't think that this is some sort of marker as to how smart you are, how much influence you are or what not."
While some have stopped following Upshaw in protest, he argues nothing has changed for those who enjoy following his 140-character missives.
"Whether or not I have one follower or 40 million followers, if you get some enjoyment out of the tweets then that's all that matters for you."
And when it comes to regrets, Upshaw says he has none.
"It's the best ten bucks I ever spent. I think it's hilarious."
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