This passage comes from Dan Gillmor’s “Principles for a New Media Literacy,” originally published as part of the Media Re:public project at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. I think it unwittingly provides a great example of why “number of followers” is a poor gauge of authority on Twitter (and any social networking site).
We have come to learn that the tabloid’s front-page headline about Barack Obama’s alien love child via a Martian mate is almost certainly false, despite the fact that the publication sells millions of copies each week. We know that popularity in the traditional media world is not a proxy for quality.
Gillmor is spot on. The number of people who buy your magazine or click onto your Web site or add you on Twitter is not a measure of your authority or quality, in the print world or in the digital one.