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What Chávez and Obama have in common: Twitterplomacy

What's in a Tweet? No more than 140 characters, of course – enough for leaders to speak their peace, or anger. Twitter turned 5 on Monday.

March 22, 2011

Top column, from left to right: Barack Obama, Dmitry Medvedev, Kim Jong-il Bottom column from left to right: Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Hugo Chávez, Paul Kagame

Carolyn Kaster/AP, Dmitry Astakhov/AP, Reuters, Jamal Saidi/Reuters, Ariana Cubillos/AP, Chip East/Reuters

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Presidents, prime ministers, and sheikhs are actively tweeting to reach a generation of young people who live on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook – sites that were instrumental in helping protesters in Tunisia and Egypt topple autocratic regimes.

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Twitter has verified the accounts of more than 40 world leaders, including Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who logged the 100,000th follower of his Twitter page in March and uses the site to criticize the United States. Tweets, indeed, are now being heard around the world.

As a nod to Twitter turning 5 years old on Monday, here's a look at statesmen worldwide who are increasingly taking to the medium.

Kim Jong-il, leader of North Korea

  • Tag: @uriminzok (“our nation”)
  • Followers: 11,400
  • Tweeting since: July 15, 2010
  • Tweet: “The revolution makes the mighty tremble.” (March 7)

Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates

  • Tag: @HHShkMohd
  • Followers: 378,000
  • Tweeting since: June 3, 2009
  • Tweet: ”I’d like to share with you this stunning image of #Dubai which sets a new record for the world’s largest photo.” (May 12, 2010)

Barack Obama, president of the US

  • Tag: @BarackObama
  • Followers: 7 million
  • Tweeting since: May 5, 2007
  • Tweet: “Sending condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who lost loved ones in the earthquake & tsunamis. U.S. stands ready to help.” (March 11)

Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela

  • Tag: @chavezcandanga
  • Followers: 1.3 million
  • Tweeting since: April 1, 2010
  • Tweet: “Hey how’s it going? I appeared like I said I would: at midnight. I’m off to Brazil. And very happy to work for Venezuela. We will be victorious!!” (April 27, 2010)

Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda

  • Tag: @PaulKagame
  • Followers: 7,200
  • Tweeting since: May 4, 2009
  • Tweet: “In my opinion..let Rw.or Africa be the best place(s) they can n their pple want them to be ,,! Unfrtntly we lag behind .....!!!” (March 13)

Dmitry Medvedev, president of Russia

  • Tag: @MedvedevRussia
  • Followers: 215,000
  • Tweeting since: June 9, 2010
  • Tweet: "To all women, we wish you a happy International Women’s Day! Enjoy spring warmth and high spirits! We love you!” (March 8)
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