Avraham Tischler, a 21-year old underdog candidate for the State Senate in southern Brooklyn, has suddenly surged to over 27,400 followers as his September 13 primary date fast approaches. A cursory survey of dozens of the followers showed all of them to have no activity and no followers, a hallmark trait of fake, automated accounts. Furthermore, the Twitter tool StatusPeople estimated 100 percent of his followers as “fake.”
The number stands in sharp contrast to his generally inactive account. Mr. Tischler, who started his campaign account earlier this summer, has only made 23 tweets, and the only interaction others have had with his profile in recent days was political blogger Yossi Gestetner noting the giant leap in followers. The exact point when he accumulated these followers was unclear, but a Google cache from last month shows him with six followers.
Even if the followers were real, they would be of little help to the aspiring state senator, as all of those we surveyed claimed to be users located in Canada, Hawaii and other locations far beyond the neighborhoods of Boro Park and Midwood.
Mr. Tischler, who did not immediately return a request for comment, is facing off against former City Councilman Simcha Felder in the Democratic primary. Mr. Felder, with over $400,000 in the bank, is a strong favorite to win, but Mr. Tischler and his 20-year old brother Moshe, who is campaigning for the State Assembly, are hoping discontent with the powers-that-be in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community will yield them favorable results.
One way to quickly increase followers is to purchase them in bulk from third-party sources, who may or may not claim to be offering users with real people behind them.
How Mr. Tischler acquired this huge number of empty accounts wasn’t immediately clear, but if any accusations of having purchased them emerge, he’ll be in good company. Then-presidential contender Newt Gingrich had to fend off charges about his own Twitter following last year, and even The New York Times has noted that a good portion of President Barack Obama’s followers are fake.
Update: In a brief phone interview, Mr. Tischler said he was surprised by the huge number of followers and didn’t know how they got there.