It has long claimed to be Scotland's most followed club.


But more than half of the Twitter fans of much-troubled Rangers are fake, it has emerged.

The Scottish championship side has fully 160,000 followers on the social media site, making it one of the country's biggest institutions on the microblogging site.

However, an analysis of its following shows 51 per cent are "suspicious or empty", 17 per cent are inactive and just 32 per cent are ranked "good".

The Fake Followers app from Social Bakers - which has already been used to show that Alex Salmond has more fake followers than any other British politician - also revealed huge numbers of doubtful followers at other clubs.

Celtic, which is now way ahead of its Old Firm rival online and on the park, has 250,000 followers on Twitter.

However, 36 per cent of them are fake, according to Social Bakers, and 15 per cent inactive, meaning only 46 per cent are "good".

Current league leaders Aberdeen has fewer followers than both the big Glasgow teams, just 36,000. But more than half of them are real and just 36 per cent fake.

Twitter analysts stress there is nothing suspicious about a high-profile account having lots of followers.

Scammers creating fake accounts regularly follow big names in order to make their creations - which sell for about £5 for 10,000 - look more real.

That is why Mr Salmond has 40 per cent of his followers who are under question - in fact Barack Obama, the most followed politician in the world, has tens of millions of fakes apparently signing up to hear his tweets of wisdom.

Social media consultant Annie McGuire - no stranger as a journalist to big football grounds - explained: "Fake followers aren't really going to concern politicians and clubs too much.

"There's absolutely no suggestion they went out to acquire them - and it's really just an indication that they are 'twitter famous' - worth following to make your own account look credible.

"It's more of a problem for the beleaguered 'social media manager' within big companies who have promised their bosses their message is getting to 100k people... when in fact a closer look at those followers shows as many as half may be 'bots'.

"It's worth remembering that social media is not real life though.

"Even 'real people' on Twitter are pretty fake in how they behave: they follow people they despise and they retweet things they don't agree with to start a fight. If you behaved like that in the pub you'd get thrown out."

Zealous football fans or political activists are pests. Police Scotland has made headlines - and sparking controversy - by tweeting that it was monitoring such online activity.

It may not be monitoring its own 66,000 followers, 31 per cent of which are fake. Chief Constable Stephen House and colleagues have frequently boasted of their following. However, such levels of fakery appear routine for the police; the figure for the Met is 38 per cent.

Other high profile public bodies also prove to be largely tweeting to followers who don't exist or who have stopped looking at their accounts.

Only 45 per cent of Glasgow Council's following is both real and active; only 68 per cent of the Scottish Government's.

BBC and STV no longer only fight for ratings on TV; they do so online too. STV News appeared to draw ahead on Twitter with 152,000 followers, ahead of BBC SCotland News on 142,000. However, 45 per cent of the commercial station's news followers were fake and 12 per cent inactive meaning just 45 per cent were "good". The BBC news had 22 per cent fake, 10 per cent inactive and 69 per cent "good". So the public broadcaster has more real followers.