50 Cent only flashes stacks of fake money because his fans are flat broke, and they NEED to see Fiddy flossing like a mogul ... at least that's what his attorneys said in court.
We got audio of Wednesday's bankruptcy hearing -- which was filed with the court -- and you can hear 50 Cent's legal team trying to explain his social media strategy. As they put it ... "He has to keep up his image for the fans. Rap fans, they're poor and they want their idols to be rich and something to look up to."
Listen, there's more ... about how 50's caught between bankruptcy and keeping up appearances.
Of course, his fans might not even hear this ... if they can't afford an Internet connection.