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Nicholas Ferroni Headshot

How Would Justin Bieber Stack Up Against Historical and Iconic Figures Twitter

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With Justin Bieber becoming the first person to reach 40 million followers on Twitter (nearly eight million more than President Obama), it has become appallingly obvious that we no longer judge people based on character, integrity or even their contribution to society, just their number of followers on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. As a historian, this got me thinking: If Twitter had existed throughout history, would Justin Bieber still be the most "followed" person on the planet? Would there still be more "Beliebers" than, say, Da Vincians (followers of Leonardo Da Vinci) or even Twainians (followers of Mark Twain)? So, I decided to make a list of some of history's most influential and iconic figures in an attempt to roughly estimate how many "followers" they would have had based on the number of people they have affected, both in good and bad ways.

Now, from a historical perspective, it is nearly impossible to be 100 percent accurate in identifying the exact number of people that one has affected and, because of that, I chose historical and iconic figures who were a little easier to somewhat calculate (such as those with actual followers, products and items that could be recorded, and number of lives to whom the figure can be directly linked) and there are obviously many deserving historical figures that were left off the list. In all cases, I provided the most conservative numbers researched, which means that nearly all of the figures listed most likely would have many more followers than I have projected; for those who are definitely underestimated, I added a (+) after the amount to identify that they would likely had many more. Either way, the results will guarantee that I receive thousands of death threats from Beliebers all over the world, and even from some of my own students.

(NOTE: For those figures who have obviously changed the world but for whom I have no way of calculating how many lives they affected, I made two honorable mention lists. The first lists those figures who obviously affected billions of lives, and the second lists figures who affected millions of lives.)

Top Ten REAL Twitter Accounts (as of 6/17/13)

1. @JustinBieber: 40. 5 million followers
2. @LadyGaga: 38.3 million
3. @KatyPerry 37.8 million
4. @BarackObama 32.5 million
5. @Rihanna: 29.9 million followers
6. @TaylorSwift: 29.3 million
7. @BritneySpears: 28.1 million
8. @JTimberlake: 21.3 million
9. @Shakira: 20.8 million
10. @TheEllenShow: 19.7 million
11. @JLo: 19.5 million
12. @Oprah: 19.2 million
13. @Ronaldo: 18.8 million
14. @KimKardashian: 17.9 million
15. @Pink: 16.6 million
16. @NickiMinaj: 16.5 million
17. @BrunoMars: 16.2 million
18. @KAKA: 15.7 million
19. @SelenaGomez: 15.3 million
20. @OfficialAdele: 15 million

Click here for the complete list.

Top Celebrity Accounts Combined With Historical Accounts

1. @AdamAndEve: 7 billion (number of humans and solely for the religious folk)
2. @Lucy (the first humanoid discovered in Africa): 7 billion (number of humans)
3. @Johangutenberg: 6 billion followers (number of King James bibles printed)
4. @TEdison: 4.5 billion (number of people in the world that have electricity)
5. @AlexanderGBell: 2.5 billion (number of phones in the world)
6. @Jesus: 2.2 billion (number of followers worldwide)
7. @Muhammad: 2.04 billion (number of followers worldwide)
8. @Elvis: 1.8 billion (number of albums sold worldwide)
9. @KarlMarx: 1.6 billion (number of communists in the world)
10. @AgathaChristie: 1 billion (though she sold 4 billion books worldwide, this is closer to accurate)
11. @Gandhi: 851 million + (only includes Hindus)
12. @KingofPop (Michael Jackson): 750 million + (number of estimated albums sold)
13. @WaltDisney: 600 million + (only the number of visitors to Disneyland)
14. @TheBeatles: 600 million (estimated number of albums sold)
15. @CharlesDickens: 500 million + (estimated number of books sold)
16. @DrSeuss: 500 million + (estimated number of book sales)
17. @SteveJobs: 500 million + (estimated number of apple items sold)
18. @Buddha: 500 million (number of Buddhists worldwide)
19. @MartinLuther: 500 million (number of Protestants worldwide)
20. @DrJNaismith: 400 million (number of basketball participants worldwide)
21. @GW (GeorgeWashington): 307 million (number of Americans as of 2013)
22. @BigBen (Ben Franklin): 307 million
23. @TJefferson (Thomas Jefferson) 307 million
24. @JRRTolkien: 250 million (number of books sold)
25. @Whitney (Whitney Houston): 230 million (estimated albums sold)
26. @SusanBAnthony: 156 million (number of women in America)
27. @MarkTwain: 100 million + (rough estimate of books sold)
28. @Tupac: 75 million (number of albums sold)
29. @JDSalinger: 65 million (number of books sold)
30. @Hitler: 60 million (number of casualties as a result of World War II)
31. @MarvinGaye: 58 million (number of albums sold)
32. @Big (Biggie Smalls): 40 million + (number of albums sold)
33. @JustinBieber: 40.5 million
34. @LadyGaga: 38.3 million
35. @GPrincip (Gavrilo Princip): 37 million + (number of casualties of World War I)
36. @BarackObama: 32.5 million
37. @Rihanna: 29.9 million
38. @TaylorSwift: 29.3 million
39. @BritneySpears: 28.1 million
40. @JTimberlake: 21.3 million
41. @Stalin (Joseph Stalin): 20 million + (number of those killed under Stalin's rule)
42. @Shakira: 20.8 million
43. @TheEllenShow: 19.7 million
44. @JLo: 19.2 million
45. @Oprah: 19.2 million
46. @Ronaldo: 18.8 million
47. @KimKardashian: 17.9 million
48. @Pink: 16.6 million
49. @NickiMinaj: 16.5 million
50. @Moses: 14 million + (number of Jews in the world)

Figures that would be in the billions, but are impossible to determine: Shakespeare, Marie Curie, the Wright Brothers, Clara Barton, Ts'ai Lun, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Einstein, Orville and Wilbur Wright and Voltaire.

Figures that would be in the multimillions, but are impossible to determine: Oscar Wilde, MLK, Marilyn Monroe, Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Henry Ford, Christopher Columbus and Queen Elizabeth.