The List

Klout

Forget money, forget politics. Which global leader really rules the Twitterverse?

With 500 million users and counting, Twitter has become a favored platform for politicians -- or, at the very least, their PR departments -- to share their views with the world. In fact, according to a recent study on so-called "Twiplomacy" by the communications firm Burson-Marsteller, more than three-quarters of world leaders have "joined the conversation." As of July, the 505 world leaders with Twitter accounts boasted nearly 106 million followers combined. Politicians ranging from Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani to Pakistan's former leader Pervez Musharraf have taken to the medium to exercise leadership -- in 140 characters or less.

All this political tweeting has provided us with a virtual treasure trove of information about these leaders. "You are what you tweet," as the saying goes. With this in mind, Foreign Policy has turned to four of the most interesting Twitter analytics tools available to see what insights we can glean from the Twitter accounts of eight of the most powerful leaders on the globe, from America's Barack Obama to India's Manmohan Singh. 

Here's what we found; take it all -- particularly, the findings of TweetPsych, which builds a psychological profile of a user from his or her tweets -- with the grain of salt it deserves.

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

Barack Obama

Klout 

The U.S. president's score on Klout, which seeks to measure a user's "influence" on social media by the level of response to what he or she shares, is a whopping 99. On this front, Obama even manages to edge out Twitter heavyweights like Justin Bieber (96) and Lady Gaga (95). He is by far the most-followed world leader on Twitter, but it's not just a one-way street -- Obama also follows more people than any of the other leaders on our list. However, according to Twiplomacy, only two of those people are other world leaders (cue the op-eds about Obama's standoffishness diminishing American influence on the world stage).

Klout also seeks to measure who a user is influenced by. So, who influences Obama most? According to Klout, it's Joe Biden, the Democratic National Committee, and Michelle Obama -- in that order.  

TweepsMap

Where are the bulk of Obama's followers tweeting from? In its current version, this app allows users to map their followers and view some handy stats about their distribution. The developers will soon be releasing a version that allows users to analyze other people's accounts, and they gave FP a sneak preview so that we could find out where Obama's followers tend to be located:

 

TweetPsych 

Obama, it seems, is something of a workaholic -- at least on Twitter. According to TweetPsych's algorithms, which compare a particular user's tweeting to a Twittersphere-wide average, Obama tweets about work 338 percent more than the average user. The president also tweets about money-related issues 298 percent more than the average user. 

Top Tweet 

The MyTopTweet app claims that Obama's Top Tweet -- the one that garnered the greatest number of retweets and favorites -- came in March of 2010, when the House passed the Affordable Care Act:   

 

If that doesn't sound right to you, you're on to something. The president's most retweeted tweet -- and the most popular tweet in Twitter's history -- is actually the post-reelection image of him embracing Michelle with the caption, "Four more years." Like we said, take the findings of these Twitter apps with a grain of salt.

David Cameron

The British prime minister has found Twitter to be something of a rude awakening, as it's brought him up close and personal with some Britons who previously had to lob their disdain at the premier from a distance. Last December, reports of the abuse Cameron has faced on social media even made headlines, after he found himself on the receiving end of digs about everything from his policies to his weight. So far, however, the prime minister appears to be taking his Twitter notoriety in stride. "Trolls are my new favorite things," he told journalists. 

Klout 

He's no Barack Obama, but Cameron's Klout score is still an impressive 92. The Twittersphere may enjoy trolling Cameron, but at least that means they're following him.

TweepsMap

 

TweetPsych 

If Barack Obama is a workaholic, is the prime minister a nymphomaniac? According to TweetPsych, Cameron tweets about sex 433 percent more than the average user. And yet, a quick scan of Cameron's recent tweets reveals a feed that is disappointingly tame. Perhaps some recent talk about "sneak previews" and "special relationships" triggered the algorithm's Freudian slip.

Top Tweet 

The prime minister of the United Kingdom reached his greatest heights of Twitter glory to date riding on the coattails of a boy band. 

Pope Francis

Klout 

Though Twiplomacy deemed Pope Francis the most influential tweeter of all world leaders, his Klout score when tweeting in English comes in below some of the others we examined at 89. But combine that with the Klout scores of his German (65), French (70), Polish (61), Portuguese (78), Spanish (80), Italian (72), Latin (66), and Arabic (63) accounts and you get a force to be reckoned with.

TweepsMap

 

 

TweetPsych  

Reassuringly, TweetPsych tells us that the pope is a good counselor, who tweets about social issues 164 percent more than the average user. Francis, according to TweetPsych, exhibits a high prevalence of "inclusive Tweets, social behavior, and speaking directly to the listener." It's exactly what you'd want in a tweeting pontiff. 

Top Tweet  

Francis's top tweet was his first upon being tapped to lead the Catholic Church (according to the Twiplomacy study, the pope, with an average of 11,116 retweets per tweet, is the "most influential" world leader on Twitter):  

 

François Hollande

Klout 

Once upon a time, the French president was a regular tweeter, but he hasn't made much noise since taking office last May, tweeting only one time since his inauguration. Perhaps Hollande is keeping a low profile on the social network after his embarrassing Twitter tangle last year. Hollande's current partner tweeted a knock against his ex, and French Twitter tongues began wagging.  

Incredibly, Hollande's Klout score of 87 means the French president, despite his radio silence, manages to wield just a bit more influence in the social media sphere than actor Ryan Gosling, who comes in at 85. 

TweepsMap 

 

 

TweetPsych  

Unfortunately, we don't have much insight into Hollande because TweetPsych doesn't analyze accounts for those who don't tweet primarily in English. It's a problem one would run into a lot in trying to sketch a psychological portrait of the world's tweeters in chief; according to the Twiplomacy study, world leaders tweet in 48 different languages.

Top Tweet

Hollande's top tweet came the day he defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in France's presidential election:  

 

Translation: "My mission, my duty is to serve the Republic, serve France!"

Benjamin Netanyahu

Klout

The Israeli prime minister isn't a frequent tweeter, but hashtag-laden tweets like this one have won him a Klout score of 87:

 

Middle East policy wonks won't be surprised to learn that the accounts with the most influence over his Twitter feed are the White House and the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.  

TweepsMap

Netanyahu is alone among the national leaders we studied in having more followers in another country -- the United States -- than in his own.  

 

 

TweetPsych 

Netanyahu exhibits no pronounced Twitter personality traits, aside from tweeting about work slightly more (13 percent) than your average user.

Top Tweet

Netanyahu sent out his most popular tweet to date during the highly charged (and social media-saturated) eight days of fighting between Israel and Gaza in November 2012: 

Dmitry Medvedev

Klout 

Medvedev is an active social networker, juggling Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. But take note: Just because you follow the Russian prime minister on Twitter doesn't mean you're friends. In March, Medvedev's office released a statement warning his followers not to get too familiar when tweeting at the politician. "He's not Dimon [a nickname for Dimitry] to you," said spokeswoman Natalya Timakova. "He's the head of the government."   

Despite his hardline stance on online familiarity, Medvedev maintains a Klout score of 86. Who influences Medvedev's Twitter feed the most? Not his boss Vladimir Putin, but rather his best Twitter buddy Arnold Schwarzenegger. The two have maintained a very public friendship on the social media platform since they met in Silicon Valley in 2010, even using it to plan a ski vacation.  

TweepsMap  

 

 

TweetPsych  

Medvedev, according to TweetPsych, tweets about "control" 281 percent more than the average user. "This includes restraint and moral imperatives and may indicate a desire to impose order," reads the app's analysis. Perhaps TweetPsych is picking up on the psychological toll of political life in the shadow of Vladimir Putin. 

Top Tweet  

Medvedev's greatest hit came during a 2010 trip to the United States:   

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner

Klout 

Argentina's president, an avid tweeter who once sent 61 tweets in 9 hours during protests against her government, boasts a Klout score of 82 (as the Economist cheekily observerd, "She seems to view Twitter's 140-character limit as rather like the other checks on her power: an annoyance to be sidestepped rather than a hard rule"). She also boasts over 2 million followers -- more than most of the figures on this list. 

According to the app, her major influencers on Twitter include the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, an epic tweeter

TweepsMap  

 

 

TweetPsych 

Kirchner tweets in Spanish, so TweetPsych wasn't available for her account. 

Top Tweet 

Kirchner's top tweet happens to be of a strikingly personal nature:  

 

Translation: "This would make him happy. Max, our son, is going to be a father. I'm going to have a grandson! CFK grandma! God takes ..., God gives"

Manmohan Singh

Klout  

As the prime minister of India, Singh has faced criticism for his camera-shy, sometimes-aloof demeanor. But detractors should take note of his Klout score: a whopping 80. Not too shabby, considering he has only 700,000 followers.

TweepsMap 

 

 

TweetPsych 

Prime Minister Singh is also a bit of a workaholic, tweeting about employment and work-related issues 127 percent more often than your average user.

Top Tweet

Singh won praise for his condolences issued as India mourned the death of Delhi rape victim Jyoti Singh Pandey in December:  

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images

The List

Jeff Bezos, Meet Your Fellow Media Plutocrats

With his purchase of the Washington Post, the Amazon founder joins the ranks of other millionaires and billionaires who are reshaping the global media landscape.

"I have a most surprising announcement." With those words, Don Graham, the Washington Post Company's chairman and chief executive, dropped a bombshell on the newspaper that has been in his family for four generations. The family would sell, Graham announced, to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Bezos now joins that most exclusive of clubs: plutocrats with newspapers. With his $250 million purchase of the Post, the Internet entrepreneur joins the growing ranks of the global media elite, an eclectic group of outsize characters who have cashed in on and backed the world's most powerful media companies.

Jeff Bezos, meet your new peers.

Samir and Vineet Jain

The woes of the newspaper industry are well-known, but in India the Internet revolution that has beset Western newspapers is nowhere to be seen. In fact, India's broadsheets are thriving. At the forefront of this surprising renaissance in newspaper publishing are Samir and Vineet Jain, the men behind the world's largest paper by circulation, the Times of India. Together, Samir and Vineet (the latter is pictured above, left) have taken a publishing empire and turbocharged it. Pursuing an aggressive advertorial strategy, the brothers have made the Times the country's most read and most important paper. But in doing so they have adopted a controversial editorial strategy. As detailed in a marvelous profile of the two men by the New Yorker's Ken Auletta, Samir and Vineet have taken to selling an "aspirational" editorial product, one in which content is often for sale to the people the paper covers. Bollywood stars and celebrities buy coverage in the paper to boost their profiles. A disclaimer that the coverage has been purchased is provided only in the finest of fine prints.

In India, the traditional constraints of newspaper publishing do not apply. Internet penetration is nowhere near what it is in the United States, and rapidly rising literacy rates means an increasing appetite for newspapers and the written word. This the Jain brothers are only too happy to provide. But their main goal is not to hold power to account. They freely admit that they do not consider themselves in the newspaper business; rather, they are in the advertising business. Their job, they say, is to help companies achieve their goal of increasing consumption of one product or another. To that end, content is available for purchase. More importantly, writers at the paper allege, stories about the paper's advertising partners are off limits. Instead, the paper offers a happy, sanitized version of its chaotic homeland. Death rarely features. Government accountability stories rarely make the grade.

It's a strategy that has made the brothers rich and the most important media moguls in India. The family matriarch, Indu Jain, is estimated to be worth $2.2 billion.

RAVEENDRAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Koos Bekker

In 1984, South African publishing houses were on the ropes, steadily losing revenue to their television competitors. Nasionale Pers, an established Afrikaaner publisher, was one of those organizations when, out of the blue, a young Columbia Business School student named Koos Bekker wrote to the company with an idea for revitalizing it. Inspired by the success of HBO, Bekker convinced the company's executives to push into the pay-for-TV market, a move that gave the organization a much-needed shot in the arm. That same firm is now called Naspers and has established itself as the pre-eminent force within African media. With operations in at least 130 countries, it has significant holdings in the South African newspaper, magazine, and book markets, in addition to its large paid TV interests. With a 1-percent stake in Facebook, a 29-percent stake in the Russian email behemoth Mail.ru, and a 35-percent interest in the Chinese chat service Tencent, the company is also becoming an Internet player in the developing world. As a result, Bekker, whose fortune is estimated at $450 million, has been crowned the Rupert Murdoch of South Africa.

But Bekker is uncomfortable with the idea of being compared to Murdoch, and the differences between the two media moguls are marked. Whereas Murdoch's News Corp. remains predominantly a newspaper, television, and entertainment company, Bekker has encouraged his company to make greater investments in digital start-ups. More importantly, Bekker does not look favorably on Murdoch's political activism. "He is an ideologue, and that is dangerous," Bekker told the South African writer Anton Harber. But as Harber points out in his excellent profile of Bekker, the media mogul's investments make him a bedfellow with regimes that bear a startling resemblance to the apartheid society of which his company was once a fixture. The company's involvement with Tencent, for example, makes Naspers complicit in Chinese censorship policies that have driven other multinational media firms to cease operations there. That, however, is also where the company's future lies.

Silvio Berlusconi

With his conviction at the Italian Supreme Court on charges of tax fraud, the days when Silvio Berlusconi kept a stranglehold on Italian politics may finally be coming to an end. But he nevertheless has achieved something no other modern media mogul has managed. Not only is he the dominant player in the Italian television market, he has also been the defining figure in Italian politics for the past decade -- for better or worse. As the media writer Michael Wolff observed, the American equivalent would be something like Barry Diller buying Universal, then running for president and winning. It's an arrangement that is unimaginable in the United States, yet for the past decade Italy has existed under the yoke of Berlusconi politics and Berlusconi media.

With three networks now to his name, Berlusconi essentially created independent television in Italy -- and became wildly rich off it. His estimated net worth is now $6.2 billion, and even if his star has dimmed, he remains a dominant force in Italian politics. His conviction by the country's Supreme Court may carry with it a ban from politics, which could in turn generate enough aftershocks to bring down the government. Even in disgrace, then, Berlusconi retains a fair amount of power in Italian politics, and it is a measure of his ability to firmly enmesh himself in the country's politics and media that he has bounced back seemingly career-ending setbacks as often as he has. It is a rare mogul-cum-politician who can survive charges of paying prostitutes, tax evasion, and corruption. In the firmament of media moguls today, Berlusconi is unmatched.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Thaksin Shinawatra

Among the media barons who have successfully made the transition from industry to politics, only Thaksin Shinawatra comes close to the success -- and infamy -- Berlusconi has garnered. Through a canny -- and, some say, corrupt -- use of government concessions, Shinawatra built a media empire from scratch that at its height (it's now owned by a Singaporean holding company, though the family is still a powerhouse) included a majority stake in the country's only private television network, a significant chunk of its largest mobile phone operator, a 40-percent stake in a major Internet provider, and a 41-percent stake in a satellite communications firm. But his good fortune was not to last. Elected prime minister in 2001, he was thrown out in a coup in 2006 amid charges of corruption and an anti-democratic governing style. Tellingly, his critics in the intelligentsia liked to call him the "Berlusconi of Asia."

Now, Shinwatra, who is worth about $1.7 billion, has become something of a post-modern prime minister. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, currently serves as prime minister, but because of corruption charges Thaksin can't return to Thailand. Though he holds no formal political office, he's still reportedly running the country from his private jet as he bounces around the world to his various villas and gold mines. He now governs remotely by phone and instant messenger, his sister serving as the public face of the Shinawatra empire. Yingluck has attempted to downplay the role her brother plays in the country's affairs, but the mogul is widely acknowledged to be the power behind the throne. "We can contact him at all hours," Charupong Ruangsuwan, the interior minister and secretary general of Thaksin's Pheu Thai Party, told the New York Times in January. "The world has changed. It's a boundless world. It's not like a hundred years ago when you had to use a telegraph."

Rupert Murdoch

While the Bezos purchase of the Post came as a surprise, there's a long line of eccentric billionaires who have bought expensive, struggling media properties. Among that crowd, no star shines brighter than that of Rupert Murdoch, the wily Australian media mogul. With the purchase of the Wall Street Journal in 2007, Murdoch achieved a life-long objective: acquiring a newspaper with the gravitas to go head-to-head with the New York Times, a favorite object of Murdoch hatred.

The Bancroft family's decision to sell the Journal to Murdoch stands as perhaps the clearest analog to the Graham family's move to put the Post on the chopping block. But the Post is quick to emphasize that this time around is very different. "This isn't Rupert Murdoch buying The Wall Street Journal, this is somebody who believes in the values that the Post has been prominent in practicing, and so I don't see any downside," Bob Woodward, the paper's superstar reporter, told MSNBC's Morning Joe. The differences are certainly clear: Bezos, unlike Murdoch, has no history of turning his corporate enterprises into ideological mouthpieces. Many believe the Journal has taken a rightward turn under Murdoch, not just on its editorial pages but also in its news reporting. Little is known about Bezos's political leanings, but he is thought to be something of a libertarian -- the magazine Reason celebrated him as one of their "35 Heroes of Freedom" in 2003.

Even if the Journal remains Murdoch's flagship publication, it represents but a sliver of his  media empire. News Corp. has annual revenues of about $33 billion, and most of that money comes from its film, cable, and satellite television divisions. Murdoch's star briefly dimmed in 2011 when his British tabloids were implicated in a wide-ranging scandal involving the hacking of telephone voicemails. That scandal briefly knocked Murdoch on his heels and torpedoed a satellite television deal that would have vastly expanded his empire. He now plans to split his newspaper and publishing holdings, which have been a drag on the overall performance of his company, into separate divisions. This should unlock greater returns on his most profitable units, while protecting his main assets from the liabilities of the print division -- which include the legal fallout in Britain from his reporters' hacking activities.

Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images