It's one thing to maintain ruthless control over an oppressed citizenry. But quite something else to tweet about it well.
In today's Davos-driven geopolitics, even authoritarian leaders need to be savvy about public relations. That's why even the toughest leaders are all up on the Internet
; they use Twitter to craft their images without the hassle and noise of competing parties or media bias.
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But, while some twictators can craft 140 characters of marketing gold, others fall short.
Given all the other variables (global economics, CIA knavery), it's hard to measure the direct connection between Tweeting aptitude and the ability to maintain total control over a population.
Luckily, there's a tool out there that might help; Klout measures a Twitterer's social impact. They're able to reduce any Twitter account into one of about a dozen archetypal personalities from dabblers and activists to curators and celebrities. Each is based on what the Twitterer writes and how they interact with their followers.
The company also claims that its algorithms accurately measure someone's 140-character influence, which in turn translates to the "ability to drive people to action." It's science: Lots of Internet Klout translates to lots of political clout.
So let's see how our strongmen measure up.
Name: Evo Morales
Bio: Presidente constitucional de la Republica de Bolivia
Tweet Analysis: Translation: "The CIA tried to hack into my Twitter account" Given that this is Morales's most recent Tweet, it sounds a bit paranoid to us. Tranquilo, Evo.
Klout Analysis: On the Klout matrix of influence, Morales is a "climber": "You are building an audience and finding your voice. Engaging more with others and building trust will help you."
Our Take: Climber seems like a euphemism for wannabe. Morales's last tweet was in March 2009, and it probably left his followers suspicious of his ability to control his own Tweets and therefore his own government. This lack of tweeting can only be hurting Morales.
Name: Hugo Chávez Frías
Bio: Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela. Soldado Bolivariano, Socialista y Antiimperialista.
Tweet Analysis: Translation: "Brothers and sisters of my country, the best gift that you can give me is to continue strengthening the BolivianRevolution and Socialism!!" Posted on his birthday, this Tweet is trying to portray a modest leader, who rejects lavish gifts for more idealistic ones.
Klout Analysis: Klout says Chavez is a "celebrity": "You can't get any more influential than this. People hang on your every word, and share your content like no other."
Our Take: Chavez's high Klout mirrors his political savvy. He's been in office for 11 years and has somehow negotiated himself unlimited term limits -- we bet his Tweeting had something to do with that. Chavez knows how to livestream, both on and off the Internet. He's famous for taking over the country's television airwaves to wax rhapsodic about his leadership skills and the glory of Venezuela.
Name: Pervez Musharraf
Tweet Analysis: Meta text from Musharraf. Looks like someone understands the importance of social media synergy.
Klout Analysis: Klout deems Musharraf a "curator": "You highlight the most interesting people and find the best content on the web and share it to a wide audience. You are a critical information source to your network."
Our Take: Basically, Musharraf is an under-the-radar Twitter superstar, meaning he also has some sly political moves up his sleeve. Keep an eye on this one for a political comeback.
Name: Kim Jong-Il
Location: Pyongyang, North Korea
Bio: "i like bugs bunny and cognac"
Tweet Analysis: We're impressed with Kim Jong-Il's use of internet lingo, but given his chosen avatar and bio, we suspect that this is a Kim Jong-Il impostor. How does "hai" translate into Korean?
Klout Analysis: These scores indicate that Kim Jong-Il is a "persona." Hmm, a persona? Red flag. More like persona non grata.
Our Take: Seems like this profile is phony. While the North Korean bureaucracy recently began broadcasting propaganda through a Twitter account, Kim is isolating himself from the social media world, allowing others to create his identity online.