While we were laughing at ‘covfefe’, millions of Twitter bots joined Trump’s ranks

31 May 2017

Donald Trump’s Twitter account. Image: chrisdorney/Shutterstock

US president Donald Trump is infamous for his regular tweeting, but this recent late-night message has us all asking the same thing: what is covfefe?

After just three months in the job, US president Donald Trump’s PR manager Mike Dubke announced that he was resigning for personal reasons, sparking assumptions that he may have had enough of the ongoing drama in the White House.

One area of contention has been Trump’s access to his own Twitter account, something he had built quite a reputation for prior to being named as the 45th president of the US.

Unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump has been keen to keep control of his own account rather than handing it over to his PR team, resulting in some controversial tweets on varied topics, from gun control to Snoop Dogg.

Trump’s latest tweet, sent late at night, has generated new discussion, leading to multiple memes being created online.


It is assumed that the tweet was sent in error, with suggestions that ‘covfefe’ is actually ‘coverage’, and is a follow-up to a previous retweet from Fox & Friends dismissing links between Jared Kushner and Russia.

In the hours that have followed, #covfefe is trending on Twitter, with people either asking what it is, or simply using it as a stick to beat Trump with.

Is Trump buying Twitter followers?

Perhaps even more damning are the allegations that half of Trump’s Twitter following (31m accounts) is made up of mindless bots.

By using the Twitter Audit tool online, a quick check of the Trump’s personal account – @realDonaldTrump – shows that just 51pc of his followers are real.

On Twitter, the issue of buying followers is one that hasn’t gone away, despite the company’s best efforts, and a few hundred dollars can buy you access to services to artificially boost follower numbers.

Twitter audit

Image: TwitterAudit

While accounts such as Trump’s are a major target for bots, it marks a huge surge in fake accounts for the US president. About a year ago, FiveThirtyEight found that of his then 8m followers, just 8pc of them were bots.

This is in comparison to Obama’s 89.2m followers, of which close to 80pc are real, according to Newsweek.

It remains to be seen who is behind the Trump bot surge, but, given last night’s (30 May) activity, at least half of his human audience is listening.

Donald Trump’s Twitter account. Image: chrisdorney/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic