Cable News Twitter Ratings for Monday, September 23, 2013

It’s a break in the normal Ed and Piers day on Social Media: Chris Hayes and Piers Morgan are the winners of Social Media.  Chris with the most tweets during a show, and Piers with the most tweets throughout the day.

I had noticed last week that Totally Biased w/ W. Kamau Bell was giving an incorrect hashtag on the screen (#TotallyBiase, with the terminal d cut off), so I updated my search to include the incorrect hashtag too.  I had hoped that would snap a big collection of tweets, but alas, there’s not a lot of live tweeting that show.   I don’t know if it’s just their being on FXX, which is just getting established, or their being taped like the Daily Show and Colbert.  Let’s hope over time they get better Twitter engagement.

Note that all times are US Eastern Time. See notes at end for further explanations. For earlier articles on cable news twitter ratings, please see this.

Cable News Ratings for 2013-09-23

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Does Walmart pay its employees better than left wing magazine “The Nation”?

An email landed in my email box today:

Walmart pays workers 80% more than its liberal critic

Oh, SNAP1! That sounds really bad.  Damn liberal hypocrites!  A click through to the underlying web site reveals this headline with more details:

Walmart still pays its average associate in N.Y. 80% more than The Nation will be paying its interns.

Hmmm, not quite as bad, but still bad sounding.

The web site goes on to quote an article in The Daily Beast entitled Walmart Calls Out The Nation for Its Low-Wage Internship Program.  That article comments on an email sent out by Walmart that chastises The Nation magazine for only now beginning to pay its interns minimum wage (instead of a previous $150 stipend).  The Daily Beast article goes on to state that Walmart employees average much higher wages (pointing out an average of $12.53 in Alabama) and get access to health benefits. So “The Nation” is a hypocritical left-wing double-standard holder who demands high wages from Walmart while paying the absolute minimum itself? Let’s look to the evidence presented to support their case.

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Restarting MSNBC’s The Cycle

Imagine you’ve started a new job, working for four weeks straight on a new project, and then the fifth week you get to put a couple of days in before being furloughed for two weeks.  When you get back, how quickly can you get back into the swing of things?

If you’re MSNBC’s The Cycle, that’s your story.  The show debuted on June 25th, and a month later was suspended so MSNBC could cover the Olympics.  That’s not a great strategy for building and retaining an audience!

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Why it’s impossible to know who’s behind Mitt’s fake followers

Twitter is abuzz with news that Mitt Romney’s twitter account has added around 100K new followers this weekend.  Followers, it seems, who are fake.

Naturally, the inclination is to see it as an attempt to slowly ratchet up Mitt’s follower counts to close in on Obama’s, and there’s been many tweets of derision using the #MoreFakeMitt hashtag.

However, it’s impossible to say who is behind this binge (unless you’re Twitter and can look into your log files).  So it is very premature to blame the Romney campaign or someone connected to it.  In fact, it could easily be an anti-Romney effort looking to discredit his campaign.  The Romney campaign has denied buying followers.  And I’m inclined to believe them.

To understand why I believe them (when I don’t generally trust them), you have to understand how cheap and easy it is to add followers to someone else’s account.  So let’s look at the mechanics of it:

First, remember that you have no control over your followers.  People choose to follow you or not on their own whim, and you are not involved.  If 100 people choose to follow you tomorrow, you’ll get new followers.  They don’t ask you, they don’t need your permission, and they don’t need to log into your account to do anything.

Second, while the process of gaining followers is usually a person-at-a-time kind of thing, if you happen to have multiple Twitter accounts you can have them all follow the same person.  Follower counts are counts of accounts, not counts of real live people.

Third, since many people desire high follower counts, there is a not-very-underground market for people who are willing to pay for followers.  The people providing these services have not just one account, or just a few accounts, but thousands upon thousands of accounts.  All fake, to be sure, but each and every one of them counts as a follower.

Finally, the people who provide these services care to get paid, they don’t care whose account they add followers to.  I can pay someone to add followers to my account, or I can pay them to follow yours.  They don’t really care.

How much does it cost to add followers?  Single digit $s.  On Fiverr.com, there are nearly 4000 people offering to help with Twitter followers.  Here’s just a sample:

For $5 you can get around 25,000 followers.  Mitt’s 100,000 followers could cost someone as little as $20.

And that’s the key.  Just about anyone can afford to buy Mitt 100,000 followers.  For a lot of people, $20 is almost pocket change.  And at $20, anyone who is motivated to buy followers for Mitt — regardless of being pro- or anti-Mitt — would find no impediment.

This is the problem that we have now: it’s hard to know who’s doing this.  Twitter can look up the IP addresses of the followers and determine where they came from, but the odds are the work was done in some distant (to us) country and the actual purchaser will never be known.

So why am I inclined to believe the Romney’s campaign assertion that they’re not doing it? Because there’s no real advantage for them in doing it.  First, Romney (at this moment) has about 800K followers.  Obama has 17 million more.  It’s a long, long way to add in 17 million more to Mitt if the goal is to show he’s on a par.  Why bother?  Second, Twitter will eventually remove all the fake followers.  Even if the campaign were to crow about all its new followers, it would end up with egg on its face when they were removed.

Who do I think did it?  I think it’s just a random, unconnected person who thought this would be a good idea.  Whether that person is pro-Romney or anti-Romney is impossible to guess.

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