The New Generals of the Twitter Army

by Paul Wilson


This is an actual image from the New York Times of the Moldova riots (though, I might have added the twitter image =)

Last week the New York Times wrote about how twitter was used to organize and instigate a massive riot in the Republic of Moldova (an Eastern Europe country, located between Ukraine and Romania). In ten minutes,  several tweets deployed a crowd of 10,000 to protest  the Moldova’s Communist leadership.

The organized mob thrashed government property and engaged riot police with rocks. The conflict became so heated that the government had to result to drastic measures—they cut off Internet access to the Moldova’s capital city, Kishinev. Unfortunately,  for the Communist party, the rioters continued to tweet on their cell phones. Someone really needs to give Karl Marx a crash course on Twitter!

In another part of the world this week, Ashton Kutcher mobilized his own troops and Thursday evening became the first twitterer to reach 1,000,000 followers (see below video). He was competing against CNN and only beat the media conglomerate to a million by 1,200 followers.

Then Friday Oprah did a show announcing that she is now on twitter. It’s Saturday, the next day, and last I checked, Oprah had 256,000 followers. If you want to play a fun game, go to Oprah’s Twitter page, refresh your browser, and watch her follower numbers jump up. I did this three times in three seconds and she gained 11 followers in those three seconds.

It seems to me, in the vast army of Twitterers, that the Captains and Generals are emerging. Are we surprised that our elected leaders (yes, when you follow them you are voting for them) are celebrities? The celebrities have held our attention for so long, why would it be any different on Twitter?

I hope from the Moldova experience that our newly elected twitter leaders realize the power they have and the potential dangers of that power. So, maybe Kutcher and Oprah will take a cue from Peter Parker and realize, “With great [twitter] power comes great [twitter] responsibility” (btw, Tobey Maguire is not on twitter. Come on Tobey, if Ashton can get a million followers any celebrity can).

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