Use of Twitter by public figures

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Lady Gaga, a celebrity who uses Twitter

The use of Twitter by celebrities and politicians has become an important factor both for Twitter itself and for the celebrity users. As with many other social networking WWW sites, the postings and pictures by celebrity users attracts people to the site, which increases opportunity for advertising.[1] To this end, Twitter has provided two facilities to its high-profile users.

The first is the verified account. Introduced in June 2009, the verified account system provides Twitter readers with a means to distinguish genuine accountholders from impostors. A symbol displayed against the account name indicates that Twitter has taken steps to ensure that the account has the approval of the person whom it is claimed to be, or represent.[2] However, the public signup page for obtaining verified accounts was discontinued in 2010, with Twitter explaining that the volume of requests for verified accounts had exceeded its ability to cope; and nowadays Twitter determines itself whom to approach about verified accounts, limiting them to "highly sought after users", "business partners", and "individuals at high risk of impersonation".[3][4] Business partners include those who advertise using Twitter, although it is not clearly spelled out in the material that Twitter provides to its business partners when and whether they might qualify for having verified account status.[5]

Secondly, Twitter attempts to work with celebrity and media public relations staff to encourage them to make use of Twitter in their advertising and publicity campaigns, encouraging them to use Twitter in their promotional campaigns, and providing support and analysis services to determine what worked, what created "buzz", and what did not.[1]

Celebrity entertainers, models and sportspeople[edit]

Twitter can be used by celebrities, athletes and other famous people for their own self-promotion. In a growing world of technology, many celebrities feel obligated to have their own accounts. They use it to engage with fans. Athletes can also spur competition among themselves using twitter.

However, for celebrity users, Twitter has proven to be a double-edged sword. Along with the laudatory comments from fans come hostile attacks from anonymous people; fan goodwill and even career opportunities can be lost through tweets, and several athletes have encountered trouble because of things that they have said on Twitter. A good example is the 2012 Summer Olympics. Many competitors were removed from the Olympics due to racially offensive comments that were posted on their accounts. It has become more of a necessity than ever for celebrities and public figures to be more composed online. Impulsive tweets have proven to be negative for their careers.[6]

Many celebrities do not actually maintain their own accounts; rather, the accounts are maintained by their publicists.[7]

The most popular United Kingdom celebrities on Twitter come from television with people like Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross being amongst the most popular British celebrities on the site.[8] Fry's success on Twitter is credited with being the same person on Twitter that he is off Twitter.[8]


Musicians have found Twitter to be a very promising place for self-promotion, engaging with fans, and gaining new supporters. It has become a useful tool for promoting new music such as an upcoming single, album, or feature. Fans can react to this by liking or responding to the tweet and that will subsequently lead to more interaction between the artist and their followers. Twitter has a live-streaming feature that facilitates interaction and artists can use this to directly interact in real-time.[9]

Twitter allows musicians to promote other fellow artists. They may post photos of them in the studio working with other artists and they can tag them in the post. This helps other artists gain recognition since any of the followers seeing the photo can visit the other artists' profiles. These practices are integral to growing one's fanbase since they can gain support through fellow musicians.[10]


Twitter use by politicians in the United States includes active and former US presidents,[11] House and Senate leaders and members,[12] as well as state officials in various levels of state government, cabinet members in Chile, and politicians in Germany, Japan and India.[13] These politicians use the platform to communicate with their constituents. Users may send questions and the congresspeople can directly respond. Blog posts and news articles may be directly linked and shared to all of their followers and anyone else who comes across their profile. They may also self-promote.

Most recently during the 2016 US presidential election, the top three candidates (Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders) used Twitter to discuss their campaigns, gain followers and supporters, and talk amongst other candidates. These politicians would also talk negatively about each other and sling insults back and forth. Donald Trump would refer to Clinton as "Crooked Hillary" to further stir up their rivalries. Clinton famously rebutted with "Delete your account." during this presidential race.[14]

Barack Obama is the most followed politician with 109.9 million followers on his personal Twitter. He is followed by US President Donald Trump with 71.3 million followers on his own personal Twitter. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India is the third most followed politician with 51 million followers.

In the United Kingdom and the United States, politicians use Twitter to communicate and interact with their followers. Hillary Clinton used Twitter to promote her presidential campaign but unlike Obama, she did not follow back many of her new followers.[15] In May 2011, 387 members of the United States Congress had Twitter accounts.[15] During the primary race for president in 2008, John Edwards was also on Twitter.[16] During the 2008 United States general election, during one monitored period, Obama made 261 Tweets while his Republican competitor John McCain made only 26.[17][12] On the state level in the United States, politicians tend to use Twitter primarily for constituent and policy-related issues such as the Affordable Care Act[12]. The second most popular category of tweets is personal musings.[18] The type of communication by United States politicians on Twitter varies from highly personal to press release like.[19]

British politicians on Twitter include Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May.[20] In Australia, the Greens were initially more successful on Twitter than other political parties.[21] The Australian Labor Party's politicians have used Twitter to attack their opposition,[22] with some one creating a parody account featuring Tony Abbott.[23] Kevin Rudd does not appear to be making his own tweets, rather some one else is likely to be doing it for him.[24]

Chilean politicians are using Twitter as an alternative method of communications as they find the mainstream press not giving them media coverage.[25] Politicians in Greece and Japan also use Twitter to communicate with their constituents.[26] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has used Twitter to help change his image and make himself more personable.[25] Venezuela President Hugo Chavez was one of the most followed Venezuelan accounts on Twitter.[26]

Religious figures[edit]

On December 12, 2012 Pope Benedict XVI sent his first tweet[27] which was re-tweeted by thousands of users almost immediately. Since this time the account @Pontifex has amassed over 17.9 million followers (as of March 2019) and regularly engages with users via the hashtag #AskPontifex addressing religious matters and responding to questions. Several satellite accounts are used to transmit and translate the Pope's tweets into different languages.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rosman 2012.
  2. ^ Header 2009.
  3. ^ Delo 2012.
  4. ^ Twitter 2012.
  5. ^ McHugh 2012.
  6. ^ Johnson, Brittany. "How Twitter Is Impacting Professional Athletes and Their Sports". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  7. ^ Peck 2011, p. 74.
  8. ^ a b Bennett 2010, pp. 174–.
  9. ^ "The Power of Twitter for Musicians and Why They Love It | Tweepsmap Blog". Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  10. ^ "Twitter best practices for musicians and bands". Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  11. ^ Twitaholic 2014b.
  12. ^ a b c Gautreaux 2016, p. 1.
  13. ^ Parmelee & Bichard 2011, p. 14.
  14. ^ TC. "Politweets: The Growing Use of Twitter and Social Media for Politics | Techbytes". Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  15. ^ a b Parmelee & Bichard 2011, p. 8.
  16. ^ Maarek 2011, p. 71.
  17. ^ Hendricks 2011, p. 13.
  18. ^ Parmelee & Bichard 2011, p. 9.
  19. ^ Parmelee & Bichard 2011, p. 10.
  20. ^ Knight 2012, p. 187.
  21. ^ Chen 2011, p. 73.
  22. ^ Chen 2011, p. 83.
  23. ^ Chen 2011, p. 69.
  24. ^ Reddick 2010, p. 342.
  25. ^ a b Parmelee & Bichard 2011, p. 15.
  26. ^ a b Lacy 2011, p. 61–.
  27. ^ "The Pope's first Tweets | Twitter Blogs". Retrieved 2015-10-09.

Reference bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]