Alberta Health Minister and bowtie enthusiast Stephen Mandel. A lot of his Twitter followers aren’t real people. Below: NDP Leader Rachel Notley. She doesn’t have as many Twitter followers, but a much higher percentage are real people. But then, what do you expect from New Democrats?

Warning: People you meet on the Internet could turn out to be anyone! Or nobody

Kids, are you sure that fellow you decided to follow on Twitter, the nice man who says he’s a bowtie enthusiast and loves Edmonton, is really … the minister of health?

And even if this Stephen Mandel guy actually turns out to be Alberta’s health minister, are you sure his 20,000 followers on Twitter are for real?

Well, you can take it from the experts here at Alberta Diary that Mr. Mandel really is our province’s minister of health, in large part, though apparently not completely, by merit of the fact he got elected as MLA for the riding of Edmonton-Whitemud back in October.

But as for his Twitter followers … not so much, maybe.

In the Twitterverse, 20,000 is a lot of followers – even if you used to be the mayor of Edmonton and have been using the social media application since the fall of 2010, as Mr. Mandel has. By comparison, Premier Jim Prentice only had 13,700 followers as of yesterday, NDP Leader Rachel Notley had 9,371 and Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman had 8,773.

Among Alberta politicians, only Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith seems to have more than Mr. Mandel – a very respectable 23,500.

But a very large percentage of Mr. Mandel’s followers seem to be, not to be too harsh about it, unreal … Some of them, indeed, may be as fake as the passengers on a government of Alberta flight manifest, circa 2013!

Leastways, many of them have names but no faces, no backdrop, no followers, no Tweets and none whatsoever of the other signs of social media reality that are sought out and analyzed by the bright sparks who invented the web application at

According to TwitterAudit, only 58 per cent of Mr. Mandel’s people are, uh, people … And that, of course, means that 42 per cent of them – or 8,400 – are not!

Among Alberta political leaders, this compares to 67 per cent of followers who were rated real for Ms. Smith, 84 per cent for Premier Prentice, 85 per cent for Dr. Sherman and a confidence-building 92 per cent for Ms. Notley.

And, by the way, according to TwitterAudit, I’m doing even better than Ms. Notley with 93 per cent of the 3,597 good people and bots who follow @djclimenhaga certified as living, breathing human beings. (What I really want to know is who, or what, are the 263 alleged fakes who follow me?)

Look, this isn’t a big deal. People buy lists. People buy lists for people like Mr. Mandel. I’m sure Mr. Mandel didn’t buy the list himself.

Lists like these, of course, sometimes have fake names on them. Quite a few, as it turns out in the case of Mr. Mandel.

But kids, just remember, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Especially when it comes from Alberta’s minister of health!

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1 Comment

  1. I dunno; there was that “twitchy-eyed machete-wielding savages” controversy; maybe it brought some zombies onto his twitter feed.

    It occurs to me that maybe some lobbyists would rent a bunch of fake names to use to influence a government minister.

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