The pope (and who else?) on Twitter

29 06 2011

Whether you knew it or not, Tuesday was a momentous day in the world of social media. That was the day the pope – yes, the pope in Rome — sent his first tweet. Don’t believe me? Well, the Vatican videotaped this historic event:

Not everyone thinks the pope’s foray into social media is a good idea. One writer for the Boston Herald thinks the idea of the pope’s sending spiritual guidance to his 40,962 followers in 140 characters or fewer is absurd. 

That got me to thinking. What other world leaders are using social media?

Well, the Dalai Lama for one, who tweets frequently to keep his 1,958,073 followers updated with inspiring tidbits like “We all have the right to lead happy lives.” He’s also on Facebook, and currently has 1,738,007 “likes.”

Several others are tweeting as well. According to The Huffington Post, 15 percent of the world’s 163 countries have representation on Twitter.  

Besides our president and vice president, other world leaders embracing social media include Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister who has 25,262 followers;  Sheikh Mohammed  bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, who has 419,565 followers; Gloria Arroyo, president of the Philippines with 3,330 followers; and Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s dictator,  who has 1,667,630 followers.

Each of these leaders is also on Facebook where Netanyahu has 139,678 likes, bin Rashid Al Maktoum has 445,512, Arroyo has 3,267, and Chavez has 41,300.

Matthias Lüfkens, associate director of media for the World Economic Forum, says Twitter has become a key tool for leaders to use to communicate directly with their electorate. Proving that point was South African president Jacob Zuma  who in January asked his constituents for ways to improve the lives of South Africans. “This is your platform, the President is listening.” A month later, he thanked everyone who sent him suggestions.

Do you follow or “like” any of these or other spirtual and world leaders? Tell me. I really want to know.

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