JUSTIN Bieber's title as "King of Twitter" has been brought into question after it was revealed almost half of his followers could be fake.
In a report carried out by social media statistics company, SocialBakers, an estimated 16.7m of the singer's 37m strong Twitter fan base was said to be composed of fake or empty accounts, with another 2.6m being inactive.
The research demotes Bieber, 19, to second place after Lady Gaga in the rankings of highest number of Twitter followers.
He overtook the singer earlier this year but the new statistics suggest the passing of the crown could have been premature.
Lady Gaga, although having more "good" followers than Bieber, is still thought to have over 15m bogus fans herself.
The report classified followers as either "good", "fake" or "inactive" by picking out those accounts that had fewer than a certain number of followers and who themselves followed a low number of users.
Certain words and phrases often used by spam accounts, such 'diet' and 'work from home', were also analysed.
Bieber's relationship with his fans and the media has taken a turn for the worse lately.
Last month he was booed by his audience after turning up to perform at the London O2 Arena nearly two hours late.
He has also since been seen arguing with members of the press and has posted online tirades against his critics.