The List

The FP Twitterati 100

A who's who of the foreign-policy Twitterverse in 2013.

From popes to presidents to pundits, the world's most important conversations increasingly happen 140 characters at a time. Here's FP's annual list of the 100 people you should be following to make sense of global events.

Follow FP's full Twitterati 100 here.


Carl Bildt (@carlbildt): Swedish foreign minister and one of the most candid diplomats around.

Bill Clinton (@billclinton): 42nd U.S. president, Clinton Foundation founder, and Mick Jagger's BFF.

Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton): The former U.S. secretary of state and human meme-generator doesn't tweet at the same rate these days, but you'll want to keep an eye on this feed as 2016 looms.

Pope Francis (@Pontifex): This feed, available in multiple languages, including Latin, is not only the best way to keep tabs on the unpredictable pontiff's travels and activities. Following it can now actually get you into heaven.

John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain): Leader of the loyal opposition.

Michael McFaul (@McFaul): Barack Obama's ambassador to Russia, live and occasionally uncensored.

Samantha Power (@ambassadorpower): The new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is also new to Twitter, having just started an account on Aug. 5. But like her predecessor Susan Rice, she seems remarkably candid and open for a diplomat.


Chris Adams (@chrisadamsmkts): Markets editor at the Financial Times.

Tyler Cowen (@tylercowen): Professor of economics at George Mason University, author, ethnic-food expert, and pioneering econoblogger.

Megan Greene (@economistmeg): Frighteningly prescient chief economist at Maverick Intelligence, with a focus on the eurozone crisis.

Zero Hedge (@zerohedge): Shadowy and often hysterical, but always essential group feed on financial markets.

Branko Milanovic (@BrankoMilan): Expert on global inequality, soccer superfan.

Emily Oster (@ProfEmilyOster): University of Chicago economist and must-follow for social science geeks.

Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel): New York University professor of economics and international business; prophet of doom.

Felix Salmon (@FelixSalmon): Eclectic finance blogger for Reuters.

Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart): Hyperactive executive editor at Business Insider.


Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe): The New Republic senior editor may have left Moscow behind, but she still weighs in on events in the Motherland from Twitter.

Edward Lucas (@edwardlucas): International editor for the Economist, with a focus on Eastern Europe.

J. Clive Matthews (@Nosemonkey): Managing editor at MSN International, but tweets mainly about the European Union.

Peter Spiegel (@SpiegelPeter): Brussels bureau chief for the Financial Times and stalwart summit-tweeter.

Matina Stevis (@MatinaStevis): Brussels-based journalist for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal; a key follow on the European financial crisis.

Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7): Moscow correspondent for the Independent.


Issandr El Amrani (@arabist): Writer and analyst based in Cairo.

The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh): This pseudonymous Egyptian blogger has been a must-read on his country's tumultuous politics since 2004.

Sarah Carr (@Sarahcarr): Relentless British-Egyptian reporter and blogger. Her avatars are a rotating rogues' gallery of her least-favorite Egyptian political figures.

Golnaz Esfandiari (@GEsfandiari): Iran reporter and blogger for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, based in Washington, D.C.

Ali Gharib (@Ali_Gharib): Brooklyn-based Middle East blogger and frequent Daily Beast contributor. 

Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg): Washington-based correspondent for the Atlantic; official therapist of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Hala Gorani (@halagorani): CNN International anchor and longtime Mideast correspondent.

Eliot Higgins (@Brown_Moses): The Britain-based blogger known as Brown Moses has made himself into an authority on Syrian weapons, with his work cited by everyone from Amnesty International to the New York Times.

Hussein Ibish (@ibishblog): Blogger and senior research fellow for the American Task Force on Palestine.

Tony Karon (@TonyKaron): Time's veteran, supersarcastic foreign affairs editor was recently hired by Al Jazeera America.

Robin Mills (@robinenergy): Dubai-based energy consultant and columnist.

Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa): Correspondent for the Al Aan satellite network; providing relentless coverage on Syria.

Eman Al Nafjan (@Saudiwoman): Saudi Arabia's most prominent female blogger.

Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed): The original Saudi blogger; now running Riyadh Bureau from Saudi Arabia.

Sultan Al Qassemi (@SultanAlQassemi): Prominent Emirati columnist, investor, and art aficionado; go-to source for breaking news from the Arab world.

Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid): Diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz. Scoop machine.

Mahmoud Salem (@Sandmonkey): Foul-mouthed Egyptian revolutionary blogger and son of a former ruling-party parliamentarian; based in Cairo.

Lara Setrakian (@lara): Roving correspondent and founder of the single-topic news site Syria Deeply.

Liz Sly (@LizSly): Beirut-based correspondent for the Washington Post. Essential on Syria.

Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov): Istanbul-based journalist for Today's Zaman.


Teju Cole (@tejucole): Nigerian-born novelist who hops between Lagos and Brooklyn.

Howard French (@hofrench): Journalism professor; former New York Times correspondent in Africa and China.

Calestous Juma (@calestous): Kenyan-born professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and authority on science and technology in Africa.

Andrew Mwenda (@AndrewMwenda): Managing editor of Uganda's Independent magazine; aid critic.

Lydia Polgreen (@lpolgreen): New York Times bureau chief in Johannesburg; formerly in New Delhi.

Binyavanga Wainaina (@BinyavangaW): Kenyan author and director of the Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists at Bard College.


Mariano Castillo (@marianoCNN): CNN's Latin America news desk editor. A good all-purpose feed.

Damien Cave (@damiencave): New York Times correspondent in Mexico. 

Simon Romero (@viaSimonRomero): New York Times bureau chief in Brazil.

Carol Rosenberg (@carolrosenberg): The Miami Herald's indefatigable Gitmo reporter.


Bill Bishop (@niubi): Beijing-based blogger and all-around China watcher; author of the Sinocism China Newsletter.  

Adam Cathcart (@adamcathcart): Get your news, views, rumors, and weirdness on North Korea here.

Gady Epstein (@gadyepstein): Wickedly funny Beijing correspondent for the Economist; formerly with Forbes.

Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior): Often combative but always insightful Central Asia expert and media critic.

Jean Lee (@newsjean): The Associated Press's Korea bureau chief and the only journalist to tweet (semi-)regularly from Pyongyang.

Hiroko Tabuchi (@HirokoTabuchi): Tokyo correspondent for the New York Times, tweeting on everything from high-tech to high art.

Edward Wong (@comradewong): China correspondent for the New York Times.


Sadanand Dhume (@dhume): South Asia analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. 

C. Christine Fair (@CChristineFair): Georgetown University assistant professor, dog lover, and sharp-tongued South Asia expert.

Arif Rafiq (@ArifCRafiq): Pakistani-American analyst and consultant based in Washington, D.C.

Declan Walsh (@declanwalsh): New York Times reporter who was recently expelled from his post in Pakistan; his location, "Islamabad, ideally."


J.M. Berger (@intelwire): A high-volume, high-energy feed focused primarily on counterterrorism, from a Boston-based journalist.

Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC): Presidential historian and exemplary history tweeter.

Michael Clemens (@m_clem): Wide-ranging scholar at the Center for Global Development.

David Gomez (@AllThingsHLS): Former FBI agent and emerging must-follow on homeland security issues.

Andrew Exum (@abumuqawama): Former Army Ranger, blogger, and counterinsurgency guru at the Center for a New American Security.

Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald): Love him or hate him, after he made PRISM a household name this year, you can't afford to ignore him.

Will McCants (@will_mccants): Former counterterrorism analyst at the State Department; now an expert at CNA.

Danielle Pletka (@dpletka): Anyone interested in the future of Republican foreign policy should be following this Senate staffer turned American Enterprise Institute scholar.

Paul Salopek (@paulsalopek): Veteran journalist on a project to trace the history of human migration from Ethiopia to South America on foot. Currently somewhere in Saudi Arabia.

Erin M. Simpson (@charlie_simpson): Big issues meet big data with a side of Broadway.

Anne-Marie Slaughter (@SlaughterAM): Professor at Princeton University and former head of policy planning at the State Department.

Marcy Wheeler (@emptywheel): Michigan-based blogger and leading online critic of the national security state.

Asher Wolf (@Asher_Wolf): Tart-tongued Aussie information activist. 

Lauren Wolfe (@Wolfe321): Director of the Women Under Siege project and authority on gender and conflict. 


Mark Leon Goldberg (@MarkLGoldberg): Blogger for the United Nations Foundation's UN Dispatch, which covers the inner workings of Turtle Bay and Foggy Bottom.

Matthew Lee (@innercitypress): Eccentric but comprehensive U.N. coverage.


Rebecca MacKinnon (@rmack): Authority on the Internet and democracy with a special interest in China.

Evgeny Morozov (@evgenymorozov): Silicon Valley naysayer and chief scourge of "solutionism."

Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian): The American Civil Liberties Union's resident tech guru and reggae fanatic.

Ethan Zuckerman (@EthanZ): Author, blogger, academic, and inventor of the cute-cat theory of digital activism.  


Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman): National security editor for the Guardian's U.S. edition; tweets on everything from the National Security Agency leaks to punk rock to the New York Yankees.

Margaret Brennan (@margbrennan): CBS correspondent following the State Department.

Emily Cadei (@emilycadei): Foreign-policy reporter for CQ Roll Call; useful source for goings-on on Capitol Hill.

Rosie Gray (@RosieGray): Reporter for BuzzFeed, exposer of foreign government lobbying shenanigans.

Josh Rogin (@joshrogin): Former FP Cable guy now plying his trade at the Daily Beast.

Laura Rozen (@lrozen): Veteran journalist reporting on Washington for the Middle East-focused news outlet Al-Monitor.


Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown): High-volume feed from ThinkProgress's resident national security blogger.

Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder): Former Moscow correspondent turned foreign editor of BuzzFeed.

Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow): Not just another celebrity do-gooder, the Rosemary's Baby star dives headlong into debates on development and national security. Sadly didn't actually watch Sharknado with Philip Roth.

Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher): Insightful and scary-fast Washington Post foreign affairs blogger.

David Grann (@DavidGrann): One of the world's best magazine feature writers also has a charmingly eclectic Twitter presence.

Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell): Former FP managing editor, now deputy editor of Politico magazine; still tweeting valuable insights on world news at a superhuman rate.

Anup Kaphle (@AnupKaphle): Digital foreign editor at the Washington Post aggressively tweeting on world news and national security.

Olga Khazan (@olgakhazan): Global editor for the Atlantic with a particular interest in Russia.

Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof): Crusading columnist for the New York Times; has traveled to every member of the axis of evil at least twice.

Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth): Outspoken executive director of Human Rights Watch. 

Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen): Lightning-fast editor of BuzzFeed; ringleader of the American political Twittersphere.


Follow FP tweeps here.

Gordon Adams (@Gadams1941): American University professor and FP columnist.

Daniel Altman (@altmandaniel): FP economics columnist.

P.J. Aroon (@pjaroonFP): Copy chief, comma enforcer.

David Bosco (@multilateralist): American University professor and Multilateralist blogger.

Ian Bremmer (@ianbremmer): President of Eurasia Group and The Call blogger.

Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa): New America Foundation fellow and FP columnist.

Christian Caryl (@ccaryl): Columnist and editor of Democracy Lab.

Yochi Dreazen (@yochidreazen): Senior writer for international affairs.

Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner): Tufts University professor and FP blogger; zombie expert.

Rebecca Frankel (@becksfrankel): Special projects editor, war-dog author.

Uri Friedman (@UriLF): Deputy managing editor, Passport proprietor.

Elias Groll (@EliasGroll): Assistant editor, blogger, resident Swede.

Shane Harris (@shanewharris): Senior writer focusing on national security.

John Hudson (@John_Hudson): Staff writer, Cable blogger.

David Kenner (@DavidKenner): Cairo-based Middle East editor.

Charles Kenny (@charlesjkenny): FP contributing editor and fellow at the Center for Global Development; optimist.

Christina Larson (@larsonchristina): China-based contributing editor.

Gordon Lubold (@glubold): National security reporter and Situation Report writer.

Colum Lynch (@columlynch): U.N. reporter for the Washington Post and FP.

Marc Lynch (@abuaardvark): George Washington University professor and Middle East Channel editor.

Ty McCormick (@TyMccormick): Associate editor.

Aaron David Miller (@aarondmiller2): Former diplomat and FP columnist.

Neha Paliwal (@nehapl): Assistant Editor at Democracy Lab.

Ben Pauker (@benpauker): Managing editor.

Clyde Prestowitz (@clydeprestowitz): Economic Strategy Institute president and FP blogger.

John Reed (@ReedFP): Killer Apps blogger.

David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf): FP Group CEO and editor at large; weekly columnist.

Peter Scoblic (@PeterScoblic): Executive editor for analysis and commentary.

Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman): Executive editor for news.

Margaret Slattery (@margyslattery): Assistant managing editor.

Isaac Stone Fish (@isaacstonefish): Associate editor focusing on China.

J. Dana Stuster (@JDanaStuster): Assistant editor with a special interest in Yemen.

James Traub (@JamesTraub1): Author and FP columnist.

Stephen Walt (@StephenWalt): Harvard University international relations professor and FP blogger.

Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer (@APQW): Assistant editor, exiled Californian.

Micah Zenko (@MicahZenko): Council on Foreign Relations fellow and FP columnist.

AfPak Channel (@afpakchannel)

Democracy Lab (@Democracy_Lab)

Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy)

FP Group (@TheFPGroup)

FP National Security (@FPNatSec)

Mideast Channel (@MideastChannel)

Are we missing one of your favorite follows? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter (@ForeignPolicy) which tweeps deserve to be in the Twitterati 100.


The List


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.


Barack Obama


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.  


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:



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. 


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.




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


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.





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


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. 





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


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.  


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




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


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.  





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


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





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


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.





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: