Parnassus Group

Defining the Conversation

How we identified Neil Patrick Harris’s 3 millionth follower

How do you know what order your followers came in?

Neil Patrick Harris, who is ActuallyNPH on Twitter, wanted to give a special prize to his 3 millionth follower. Here’s how used the Twitter API to determine who the lucky winner was:

First, we had to determine if the Twitter API would reliably return a list of NPH’s last 5,000 followers in reverse chronological order. We used three separate twitter accounts to follow @actuallynph at specific times, taking a screen grab of NPH’s follower counts at that time.

We then called the API multiple times over the course of an hour or so, to determine if the follower number remained constant for each test account, and that the distance in followers between the two also remained constant. They did.

This morning, we called the API for NPH’s last 5,000 followers, and counted backwards to the twitter_id of the 3 millionth follower:

id = 19125073
screen_name = sarahbeep
name = Sarah Bates

Congratulations Sarah Bates!

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