Fri July 27, 2012 4:13pm
THE governments of almost two-thirds of the 193 UN member nations have joined the Twitterverse, where President Barack Obama and his tweet on gay marriage are the most popular to date, says a new study.
But the rise in so-called "Twiplomacy" among world leaders resembles something of an echo chamber, according to an analysis of Twitter accounts belonging to 264 heads of state and government and their institutions in 125 countries.
The analysis was carried out by PR firm Burson-Marsteller, which describes it as the first-ever global study of world leaders on Twitter.
The researchers believe that just 30 of them have ever done their own tweeting - while even fewer do it on a regular basis - but altogether the Twittering leaders have sent more than 350,000 tweets to almost 52 million followers, the study shows.
About a third of them don't follow each other, and dozens of them - like Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte - don't follow any other Twitterers.
Still, some converse. More than nine of every 10 tweets by Kagame and Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi are replies, the study says.
World leaders tweet in 43 languages, with English favoured by 90 of the accounts. Spanish is the next most-used, with 41 accounts, French is third with 25 accounts and Arabic fourth with 17.
"Sixteen of the G-20 leaders are actively using Twitter for public diplomacy, but it is sad to see that the heads of state and government in China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Italy still have not joined the Twitterverse," said Matthias Luefkens of Burson-Marteller in Geneva.
The most-followed account is @BarackObama, which is run by the Obama campaign and has 17.8 million followers. Of those followers 76 are the president's peers and other governments. Obama rarely sends his own tweets, but when he does he signs them, as he did in one to the first lady on Valentine's Day.
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