Cristiano Ronaldo has over 50 million fake followers on his Instagram

  • Kat Lucas

Cristiano Ronaldo made social media history earlier this week when he became the first person in the world to reach 200 million followers on Instagram. 

It may seem trivial to some, but it’s that kind of reach which allows the Portuguese to rake in around $1 million per paid post. 

Ronaldo is by far the most followed athlete in any sport, surpassing Lionel Messi by around 58m followers. 

LA Lakers star LeBron James is the only non-footballer in the top 10 most followed athletes. 

Ronaldo’s posts are a mix of advertising products – including sunglasses, a hair-loss clinic, and shower gels – celebrations of his achievements on the pitch and inevitably, pictures of himself modelling underwear. 

But who are we to judge when 200 million people are ready to lap it up? 

Well, according to The Sun, all is not as it appears as over 50 million of those are fake accounts.

Around 72.8% of his followers are real people, 2.1% are ‘social media influencers’, 6.4% are ‘mass followers’ and a massive 18.7% are ‘suspicious accounts’, a HypeAuditor study found. 

To break down some of that lingo, ‘mass followers’ subscribe to over 1500 accounts and do not see influencers’ posts. They typically use automatic tools to follow and unfollow. 

The 50 million ‘fake’ followers will be partly made up of Instagram ‘bots’ and those who are deemed suspicious for using services to gain likes, while also paying for followers. 

Further information is available about the type of followers Ronaldo has gained and some of it comes as a surprise. 

The 34-year-old has more followers in India than in any other country – so not his native Portugal, or the UK, Spain or Italy where he’s played – though that may be a sheer accident of their respective populations. 

Interestingly, only 49% of his followers are interested in sport and are more likely to be fans of music, beauty and fashion. That might explain the high portion of posts that look like this: 

Then again, only 28% of his Instagram fans are women. 

Ronaldo won’t be the only top player with millions of fake accounts and the question has to be asked how much input he has into the account. 

Even so, it makes his numbers a little less eye-watering once you know the maths behind them. 

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