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Lies, damned lies, and monarchists' statistics*

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The ACM has long boasted at the size of its Facebook page — yet for some reason it's gone into decline over the past month. Lewis Holden reviews the numbers.



Back in September last year and earlier this year, I observed a number of strange trends in the number of supporters on the Australian's for Constitutional Monarchy's Facebook page. Then, the number of people following the ACM's Facebook page appeared to be growing at an almost perfectly linear rate — even over public holidays and end of year celebrations, when few people are online. I wouldn't have cared – I don't bother reading their Facebook page – apart from the fact that the ACM has a peculiar habit of boasting about its massive follower base.

An independent website verified that the growth in ACM followers was in fact linear, and has provided some pretty graphs. Check out the September post to see what I mean. However, it seems the wheels have now fallen off. Since the 3rd May, the number of followers on the ACM's page has steadily declined from its peak at 35,181 to 35,088. While not a huge drop, it does raise more questions about what has been behind the ACM's apparently spectacular growth in followers.


As you can see, the number of followers on the page was rising in an almost linear fashion until May 3. There is no obvious reason why support for monarchism had begun to decline in early May.


The "Fan change" and "Fan Growth Rate" charts tell a similar story:



Of course, the ACM might just be losing followers because their content is boring. By the looks of  the rate of decline, it's pretty natural, nothing too shocking.


The real question is: why has their apparently uber-popular page, which outranks the Facebook pages of both the ALP and the Liberal Party – and even the Canadian Liberal Party – suddenly went into decline after months of near perfect linear growth. If I were an ACM "supporter", I'd be asking the leaders of the organisation that very question.


Could it be, for instance, that the ACM has stopped paying for an external agency to artificially inflate their numbers?


* "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. The term was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881): "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

 
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