Politico: How’d Gemma get more Twitter followers than Mitt?

Anthony Gemma’s Twitter popularity has been raising eyebrows for awhile around these parts, and now the mystery has gone national. Politico’s Steve Friess reports:

A primary challenger in a tight Rhode Island congressional race has nearly 1 million Twitter followers — more than Mitt Romney — but he’s not talking about how he amassed such a staggering social media fan base in a short span of time. …

Other candidates recently have been caught up in allegations that their campaigns were buying Twitter followers, including Romney and Newt Gingrich. That’s relatively easy to do online, costs only pennies apiece and is not illegal — only in violation of Facebook and Twitter terms of service.

But an oversized social footprint that suggests mass appeal can be embarrassing for a campaign should it be revealed. …

Fewer than 1 percent of Gemma’s Twitter followers are based in Rhode Island, but 14 percent are in Canada, according to Michael Hussey, CEO of PeekAnalytics, one of two independent social media research firms that provided POLITICO data on Gemma. Many of his followers’ profile photos are racy and their hometowns include cities such as Istanbul and Karachi, Pakistan.

Read the rest here. Friess tweeted an ironic twist: when he began working on the story he found out that Gemma was already following him. He also notes that the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation actually has more followers than the better-known Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

• Related: Anthony Gemma has a new Twitter feed: @Gemma4Congress (July 19)

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