If I asked you to guess how many followers Keir Starmer’s twitter account gains every month, what would your guess be? 1,000 new followers? 5,000? 10,000 new followers? More than 10,000?

Keir Starmer's follower count has in fact remained almost static for several months.

I know that because I have been auditing Starmer’s twitter account for two years. Why have I been doing that you might fairly ask? I live and breathe politics and search for as much information as I can to know more. I suppose I am a bit like a bookie in that sense, I want to know as much as I can about the runners to help me predict outcomes more accurately. 

I was intrigued by the fact that Starmer's account was gaining so few followers and began auditing the account hourly using professional auditing software to closely monitor it and find out what was going on. Having carried out an extensive and in-depth audit of Keir Starmer’s twitter account from 2020 to the current date, I am now able to share my findings.

But before I do that I will briefly provide my twitter credentials.

I joined twitter in May 2018 and have 16,432 followers. They are all real followers, no fake accounts. I regularly audit my account and have a follower audit score of 100%. I follow 2,431 people, I don’t do transactional follows. I organise twitterstorms, take part in lots of campaigns and try to create a space for constructive and civilised political debate. Recently I have been gaining up to 1,000 new followers a month.

My account achieves exceptionally high levels of engagement. I have organised twitterstorms which trended at number one worldwide and numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 10 in the UK, plus lots more trending hashtags. In the last 28 days 233,000 people have visited my profile.

My account has probably recorded the highest levels of engagement for an account of its size on twitter globally. I find it interesting and amusing that a socialist account gets the highest levels of engagement on a capitalist and largely right-wing platform. I punch well above my weight and, as a socialist, I punch up and not down.

I am not saying those things to boast. I can’t really claim much credit for those statistics. I don't do much, I just write tweets and anyone can do that. My engagement levels are mostly thanks to my followers and the people who RT and like my stuff. But there is also something else which is an important factor: I know how to make twitter work. I know the formula. I know how to use the platform to optimise engagement, my engagement statistics prove that.

I wanted to start off by proving my credentials to provide assurance that the analysis you are about to read comes from a knowledgeable and expert source. 

Finally, before I present my findings you will need to know about the trap I set for Starmer’s account during the audit. I will begin by revealing the strategy I used to force the account to break twitter's terms of service.

The Sting

Almost immediately after I tweeted about Starmer’s followers numbers being static the account’s followers count suddenly started increasing.

That instant reaction piqued my interest further. In response, I launched a pincer attack on the account by starting two simultaneous campaigns, one asking people to unfollow Starmer and another asking them to report his fake followers. The campaigns caused the account to both lose thousands of real followers every day and also lose the fake followers people were reporting.

As a result of the pressure being put on the account it was forced to gain thousands of fake followers to hide the loss of the real followers. However, losing real followers and gaining fake ones has impacted the account’s audit rating, its overall credibility score. In the last week the account's audit rating has dropped by 2%.

Now we have covered the background to the story we can get straight to the audit findings.

Audit Findings

Keir Starmer’s account is losing thousands of real followers every day. It is is gaining thousands of fake followers to hide the loss and prevent the account’s total number of followers from falling. Twitter’s terms of service explicitly prohibit manipulating follower numbers. In plain English, Keir Starmer’s account is committing fraud and is in breach of twitter's terms. I have repeatedly reported the fraud to twitter but have received no response.

Having established that his account was gaining fake followers to hide the loss of real followers, I then measured the scale of the problem. Starmer’s account is losing real followers at a phenomenal rate. The account has regularly been losing as many as 500 real followers an hour on average. At peak times the account has been losing 2,500 real followers an hour for several hours at a time. Due to the haemorrhaging of real followers the account has regularly been forced to gain over 20,000 fake followers a day to hide the losses.

The Troll Farm 

Accounts can and do gain fake followers. Almost everyone has some fake followers. Fake accounts roam twitter looking for accounts to latch on to and post their spam. However, the consistent and high rate at which Starmer’s account is gaining fake followers discounts the possibility that this is an ad hoc or random event. The fact that the account gains exactly the same number of fake followers as the number of real followers it loses is conclusive proof that the account is committing fraud. 

Judging by the scale of the operation, it is being run by a professional organisation experienced in managing troll farms. A troll farm is an organisation which employs people to make deliberately provocative online posts to cause conflict or manipulate public opinion. These accounts are now created automatically using software, allowing thousands of accounts to be controlled by one person. This is becoming a bigger and bigger problem for twitter. Some estimates suggest the percentage of fake accounts on the platform has increased from 50% of all accounts to 75% of all accounts in the last five years. Twitter is currently in sale negotiations with Elon Musk and claims only 5% of accounts are fake. Musk disputes that claim and think the number is at least 20%. The truth is that nobody knows for sure how many fake accounts there are on twitter.

The existence of a troll farm supporting Keir Starmer’s account raises several questions. Who is running the troll farm? Is it a private organisation or state actor? Which country is the troll farm based in? Who is paying the troll farm, how much are they paying and where is that money coming from? Establishing those facts would require a further investigation.

Fake accounts and artificial engagement 

Artificially boosting follower counts is the first job of the accounts troll farms create but their main function is to artificially boost engagement levels for selected accounts to give the false impression their tweets are popular or topical. When you see a tweet with a very unusual RT/like ratio it is usually a sign that fake accounts are at work. They tend to like more than RT because if they RT it is easier for people to identify them as fake accounts and track them. The fake accounts are also used to attack and insult real users on twitter.

I have carried out qualitative studies to identify this type of artificial engagement. One of the studies categorised responses to tweets posted by Wes Streeting, a member of Starmer’s shadow cabinet. The study showed that most of the responses supportive of Mr Streeting's tweets had been posted by accounts which had either just been set up, had a high tweet/low follower ratio or were based abroad. So it appears that not only is the troll farm providing fake followers, it is also providing artificial online engagement.


To be explicitly clear, I am not claiming Keir Starmer knows that his twitter account is committing fraud and that a troll farm is actively supporting his account. But the fact remains that both of those things are currently happening. If Starmer becomes aware of it, and this article is in part an attempt to raise awareness, then he must take action to stop the fraud continuing.

How can the Labour leader lecture anyone on corruption and honesty when his own twitter account is committing fraud? It is one thing for a celebrity to buy fake followers to give a false impression of popularity to boost merch sales, it is quite another for a politician's social media account to gain fake followers in order to deceive voters.

That is a very serious fraud indeed. It is a fraud against democracy.