Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps hits back in Twitter follower row

PUBLISHED: 12:50 28 July 2012

MP Grant Shapps

MP Grant Shapps

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WELWYN Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has denied using software to boost the number of followers to his Twitter account, after a row with former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott.

The housing and local government minister was recently caught up in an online row with the Labour peer over who the Conservative chose to follow on the microblogging site.

Mr Shapps had been accused by the Lord Prescott and several other Twitter users of deploying a “bot” – an application that automatically follows and unfollows people in order to boost the user’s own following.

And it even led to Mr Shapps’ name trending on Twitter.

On July 17, Lord Prsecott tweeted: “Has anyone else been followed & unfollowed by @grantshapps?”, adding the trending hashtag “#shappsfollowedme”.

That sparked a flurry of posts from other users who had all been followed and unfollowed by the MP, and within a few hours #shappsfollowedme was the third highest trending topic in the UK.

But speaking to the Welwyn Hatfield Times, Mr Shapps has insisted who he chooses to follow is entirely his own decision.

“I have around 55,000 Twitter followers and follow less than half that number back,” Mr Shapps said.

“Sometimes I’ll follow people who have interesting things to say or maybe follow some of the people that I follow.

“No-one else has access to my Twitter account – apart from when it was hacked in Spanish a couple of weeks back – and the decisions as to who to follow are entirely mine.”

On his disagreement with Lord Prescott, Mr Shapps said: “A rather bizarre comedown for the former Deputy Prime Minister to spend his sunset days trying to get my Twitter account trending, but I thought it was quite funny when he proposed setting up a support group for those who I no longer follow.”

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