You have to be a certain level of Twitter-obsessed to know what I mean when I say we’ve entered another Taye Diggs situation, so allow me to explain.
A few years ago, the actor Taye Diggs started following a lot of journalists on Twitter. And journalists being journalists—not exactly a humble bunch—started to casually brag to one another about it, only to find out that Diggs was following seemingly everyone on Twitter. (Same thing with the actress Melissa Joan Hart. Sorry to be the one to break it to you.)
It finally came out that Diggs was following so many random people (699,000 at last count) because he’d hired a “social network dude” to do it for him, as The Washington Post reported in 2014. In other words, it was a branding thing.
It’s fair to guess that something similar is going on with Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director. Amid the news that Scaramucci would join the White House (and that press secretary Sean Spicer had resigned in protest), people began noticing that Scaramucci was following them on Twitter. More than a dozen of my colleagues at The Atlantic, at least, are among the followed.
Plus this person:
I just noticed that that scaramucci fellow is following me on these here twitters. 😯— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) July 21, 2017
And this one:
I'm confused. Not sure when Anthony Scaramucci began following me ?? pic.twitter.com/GCJL7Uh7lc— BA Snyder (@TheBAsnyder) July 21, 2017
And this one:
just doing some research on anthony scaramucci and he's already following me? pic.twitter.com/j07JmPdc9x— gabe bergado (@gabebergado) July 21, 2017
And this one:
Jesus, @Scaramucci is following me...— Russian Market (@russian_market) July 21, 2017
But not this person:
At this point I'm kinda offended now that Scaramucci *isn't* following me tbh— Ioana F (@ibflorea) July 21, 2017
What’s the advantage of following so many randos, one might ask? In some cases, it’s a strategy to increase a person’s follower count—operating on the principle that if you follow someone on a social platform, that person will follow you back. Get enough followers and you may even grab the attention of an algorithm that will suggest you as someone to follow. (Scaramucci is following 168,000 accounts; he has 487,000 followers.)
In other words, it’s a way of being opportunistic and garnering people’s attention—without actually ever engaging with them. So, the perfect strategy for someone in politics, a cynic might say.
Incidentally, Scaramucci is following me, too. So I sent him a message to ask about it. He didn’t write back.
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